Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 1048 ..
Tuggeranong or Belconnen."How that is an improvement in the service-taking into regard the will of the community-is beyond me.
The minister talks, in his speech, about giving us some money for elective surgery waiting lists. Perhaps he should be like one of his predecessors as health minister-Mr Moore-and get out there and talk to the federal government, find common ground, negotiate with them and get what he can for the people of the ACT, instead of taking such an aggressive stance. What we have seen under this government-under the former part-time health Minister, Mr Stanhope-is Calvary Hospital being forced to close its public wards to elective surgery for 14 weeks in this financial year, adding something like 974 souls to the waiting lists. What is their answer to it? There is no answer.
Mr Speaker, because of the cuts to the Calvary funding, we have also seen the reduction of other services-such as the provision of services, through Calvary, to mental health patients. Mr Corbell talks about improving mental health, yet this is a government that has cut the funding that would allow mental health services to be delivered through Calvary Hospital.
I think Mr Corbell ought to put a clearer picture on the record of what his achievements are, and those of his predecessor in the short term of this government with regard to the health system of the ACT. The achievements are not rosy. I do not believe there is a single plus. Perhaps the single plus is that finally, after much delay, in this year's budget we have a step-down facility-a convalescent facility-which we had funded in the previous year's budget. Under Mr Stanhope, that was not built and has certainly led to bed block. At least we can see that one finally coming through.
More delays were seen on the nurse practitioner trial. The initial results for that were coming through as the election was being held. Quite clearly, the nurse practitioner trial was a success and could have gone ahead much earlier. However, under the government of delay, nothing happened.
I agree that the federal government has control of the funds and the federal government has a large amount to say in what we do with Health. We must be working with them, not against them, to try to get the best deal we can for the ACT. Previous Liberal Health Ministers Kate Carnell, Gary Humphries and Michael Moore did that, to get the best outcomes for the people of Canberra.
I think you have to ask what this government is doing with the existing dollars they have, except provide the people the people of Canberra with less services. They have nothing positive to offer and do not have any original ideas with which to address the health system.
That the debate be now adjourned.