Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4254 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
I had the department look at the implications of that. The implications of that, in a cost sense, are that it would cost $10 million. The department tells me that, to deal with the existing category 2 waiting list, it would cost between $7 million and $10 million-to achieve Mr Smyth's target. That is what it would cost to deal with the existing category 2 waiting list in Mr Smyth's timeframe.
Where is the money going to come from for this single item, to move from a situation where it is currently 50 per cent? Of course, we haven't been able to budge on the 50 per cent that the Liberals sat on. All of a sudden, between now and June 2004-over the space of the next budget-just for category 2 patients on the list, Mr Smyth wants this government to find a minimum of $7 million.
Then we must extrapolate. What happens then? We find the $7 million to $10 million that we need just for category 2 but we stop doing something else. However, we cannot do it in Health because we have this six-page list. So I suppose we close a couple of schools, double car registrations or double rates.
There is a problem. Once you deal with that category 2 waiting list-once you get to those 48 per cent of people that Mr Smyth wants to get to by June 2004-guess what happens? You generate enormous demand! We all know that, under the health-care agreements, the ACT boundary is irrelevant. I bet it would not sit at just 30 per cent of clients from New South Wales and the region going to Canberra Hospital for too long-from down at Wollongong and up in Sydney. "Hey look! The ACT government has just stuck another $2 million into category 2. Let's whip down to Canberra. You can get in straight away-you don't have to wait."What would happen? The waiting list would go again! You could never catch up. You would be chasing your tail forever.
The department anticipates that, even at the rate of addition to the waiting list now-namely, 700 clients a month-it would take $25 million, between now and June 2004, which is Mr Smyth's target, to deal just with Mr Smyth's targets for elective surgery. Between now and June 2004, it would take around $25 million.
Where is the $25 million to come from for elective surgery? What do we cut? What do you have to cut to find another $25 million for elective surgery? What do you have to cut when you cannot take it from Health because you have to do all these other things in Health? You have to find $25 million for your new information technology system alone. What do you do? Where do you get that $25 million from?
If you are not going to close a couple of high schools, close down half of Calvary Hospital or move, say, maternity, you still have to raise the money. So how do we raise the money? Where do you get another $25 million from, just for elective surgery? Where do you get it from? Well, you double car registrations, I suppose. But don't forget-we need $200 million for this whole package. So I guess we double rates.
Mr Humphries: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: comments are supposed to be directed through the chair, not through the clock at the back of the room. You are over here, I believe-not up there.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Chief Minister, resume your seat. Please direct your comments through the chair.