Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 1053 ..
commitment to addressing health care issues which he says are vital, why has he not asked me a question about it? There has not been even one question. He is just not serious.
There has been a 16.3 per cent increase in the health budget since this government came to office, and we have seen more incidences of care. There are the extra 230 incidences and 300 incidences I referred to earlier. We have seen improved provision of equipment; we have seen additional services to support nurses and we have seen extra nurses. Those are all positives in my mind. Those are all positives about improving health care for Canberrans. But, according to Mr Smyth, they are not positives.
Mr Speaker, I will tell you what is not positive and what is not constructive-Senator Patterson refusing to talk to the states and territories about health care reform. We heard Mr Stefaniak stand up and say, "The doctors have these concerns."Yes, doctors do have concerns, but what did the peak body of doctors say when Senator Patterson refused to talk to state and territory Health Ministers? They said it was not helpful, and that she should have been there. That is what doctors said.
This is not just politics. Doctors, clinicians, nurses and allied health professionals are saying that the only way to address the key issues around general care, general primary care and funding for public hospitals is for the Commonwealth to talk to those who provide the services to the people of Australia. That is what doctors, clinicians, nurses and allied health professionals are saying.
Mr Smyth must climb down from his partisan perspective. He needs to stop automatically responding by defending his federal colleague and look rationally at what is going on. That is a decline in GP services; a decline in bulk-billing; less money than we are entitled to, under the current agreement, going to our public hospitals; and less money than we need going to aged care. These issues are the Commonwealth's responsibility. It is the contract between the territory and the Commonwealth. They signed a contract with us about what they would pay us, what areas they were responsible for, and what areas we were responsible for. They have reneged on their part of the contract. In addition, they do not want to talk to us about a new contract.
Mr Speaker, it is not good enough. The Canberra community deserves better. This government is investing more in health care, ensuring we have more nurses, better equipment and more occasions of service. These are the achievements of this government. It is time the Liberal Party joined us in forcing the Commonwealth to come to the party-to come to the negotiating table to address the issue.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
MS TUCKER (4.18): I wish to make a personal explanation under standing order 46.
MR SPEAKER: Please proceed.
MS TUCKER: In the Assembly this morning, I made a statement pursuant to standing order 246A on behalf of the Standing Committee on Health. I have two corrections to