Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 1047 ..
Ministers has been to refuse to meet and discuss the issues. This is a very disappointing response from the Commonwealth Health Minister, especially as, last year, she participated in a process to gather input from expert clinicians and other stakeholders for a reform process under the next Australian Health Care Agreement.
Mr Speaker, I call on all members of the Assembly to consider the Commonwealth's position and to ask them, wherever possible, to urge their contacts in the Commonwealth to engage in constructive discussions with states and territories on the next agreements. We need the Commonwealth to make a clear commitment to provide the reform network and resourcing required, to ensure that Australians continue to have a high quality public health system, and that Canberrans get access to that system as well. I present the following paper:
Progress towards new Australian Health Care Agreements-Ministerial statement, 13 March, 2003.
That the Assembly takes note of the paper.
MR SMYTH(Leader of the Opposition) (3.49): Mr Speaker, the Minister for Health says in his speech that the Commonwealth should work with us. That is appropriate-the Commonwealth must work with the states. However, the states must, in turn, work with the Commonwealth. The states must also work with the resources already under their control. You can take the approach that you blame the federal government for all the woes that you cannot solve, but this is a government which came to office with a number of promises that are yet to be implemented, or are yet to be honoured.
We have seen the part-time health minister-the Chief Minister, Mr Stanhope-move on. He has handed the chalice to Mr Corbell. Yet what we have not seen from the new minister is a single positive-not one idea from his party or his department-that might improve the health system. Let us look at what they have done.
Despite a large number of extra dollars being put into the health system, we are yet to see any benefit for it at all. We are seeing waiting lists expand and services reduced, and yet we have no ideas from this government. I refer to one of the ideas they put forward as their cure for the GP problem-and something they have not even bothered to try. They said they would build two after-hours GP clinics, and then explore the options of expanding them into Gungahlin and the southern suburbs of Tuggeranong. We are yet to see that happen.
What we saw happen in their budget for this year, though, was the number of outpatient services reduced from 210,350 to 202,000. How you can spend more money, reduce the services and get less output from a hospital is beyond me.
It was claimed, for much of last year, that they were improving the health system. Mr Corbell speaks about the Commonwealth's responsibility, for instance, to aged care, and yet this government's response has been, against the will of the community, against the wishes of those already involved in aged day care centres, to close the two respite aged day care centres at Narrabundah and Dickson and say, "Get on the bus and go to