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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1640 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Liberal government, what was the percentage increase in funding to public hospitals? Just over 4 per cent, Mr Speaker. In comparison, the first two budgets of the Stanhope government provided an average increase of over 7 per cent. That is this government's record. That is a record of which we are proud and a record we are very proud to defend in the context of Mr Smyth's claims.

I refer Mr Smyth to page 146 of budget paper 4. It quite clearly says that Labor's commitment to acute services has increased from $261,652 to $287,406. That is a significant increase. That is a 10 per cent increase this financial year, Mr Speaker. Mr Smyth, stop misleading the people of Canberra. Stop putting out these half-truths and deceptions, Mr Smyth, when the bottom line is that this government has increased health funding by $18 million this year and, on average, over 7 per cent in our last two budgets just in the public hospitals. Across the system, Mr Smyth, the increase is over 5 per cent. Over 5 per cent across the system and over 7 per cent just in our public hospitals.

Mr Smyth, you have to stop misleading and deceiving people. The health budget has increased by over $18 million, delivering improvements in mental health, elective surgery, dental waiting lists, alcohol and drug initiatives and home and community care. This is strong health budget. It is a Labor health budget. It is just a pity that Mr Smyth cannot find anything else to criticise.

Public housing

MRS BURKE: My question is to the minister for housing, Mr Wood. I thank you for reading your press release on homelessness, Mr Wood; that was very good. I do not think that you will have a media release for my question just yet.

I refer to output 1.1, relating to public housing services and policy, in budget paper 4 for 2003-04. Can the minister explain why the target number of applicants housed of 1,200 in 2003-04 is lower than the target of 1,450 for 2002-03, given that the minister has said that the ACT government is committed to addressing the increased demand for public housing?

MR WOOD: A variety of factors make up that figure. A large component of the waiting list is those who are waiting to move from one government housing property to another. We are looking, among other things, at ways to expedite that process. I would think that would be one factor in that regard. It is a quite reasonable thing to do. It is time consuming and a somewhat minor cost to shift people from one property to another-new lease and the like.

We are looking to expedite that. If we can do that, we will reduce the waiting list. That, I think, is the predominant factor. Other factors in the community at large would also have an impact on that. As we look at affordable issues, we expect over time just a little more help in that respect. We think that some of our policies are beginning to bite and that we are addressing the situation out there.

MRS BURKE: I have a supplementary question. Minister, can you confirm that the ACT Labor Party has changed its approach to election commitments-that is, the 2001 election? It did say that it would cease the planned downsizing of government

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