Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1147 ..
MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, it is not about trying to fill the Treasurer's budgetary black hole. The issue is that we must make sure that the services the territory pays for are delivered. Yet there should not be an automatic expectation that you can deliver more services than those which you are paid to deliver, and that the government will automatically deliver additional funding for that. That has been the trend, and members opposite should know that.
The trend in public hospital funding has been that you spend the money you have and then you respond and treat still more patients, with an expectation that the funding will be supplied. We expect agencies to work within the budget.
I am a strong advocate of public health-I am a strong advocate of making sure that public health is available to all. However, that does not mean that it is a bottomless bucket of money. It means it must be responsibly managed, to ensure that those who need health care get it, in a timely way.
Mr Smyth made a comment about rationing. Mr Speaker, that is what a waiting list is.
Mrs Burke: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I do not know that the minister is answering my question at all. Could he tell us what clinics he is proposing to close down to fill the budgetary black hole?
MR SPEAKER: Resume your seat, Mrs Burke. There is no point of order.
MR CORBELL: Mrs Burke talks about rationing. A waiting list is a type of rationing-it determines availability of services based upon need. That is what a waiting list is. Those with the highest needs get the treatment first; those with the second highest needs then get the treatment; and then those with the third highest needs get the treatment. That is the way a health system has to be managed.
It is interesting that the approach of the opposition seems to be that you can spend as much money as you like on health. The reality is that we could spend double the amount of money on health as we do now and there would still be unmet need. That would be the outcome. It is about spending the money in a smart way, to get the best possible outcomes for the people who need the care.
That is the very responsible approach the government is adopting. The government will continue to ensure that our health care system is of the highest quality and that its services are targeted to provide health care to those who require it, based on their clinical needs.
MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Treasurer. Last Friday, in Canberra you attended the annual Treasurers Conference. As this event has significant implications for the territory, would you please advise members of the outcome of the meeting.
MR QUINLAN: The recommendations of the Grants Commission were adopted almost to the letter by the federal Treasurer in the letters of offer to each state, with one notable omission. The ACT receives about $15 million each year as special fiscal needs. That