Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2977 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
I do not think we should be supporting Mr Corbell's amendment because his first dot point says, "has given priority to determining applications for direct sale of land". I do not believe that is true and, if his definition of priority is that an application takes two years to process, then God help a normal application going through ACTPLA, because it will take a whole lot longer than a priority application.
The agreement in principle on the sale of a block of land at Bruce to Calvary Hospital was given by the previous cabinet almost two years ago. Why it had to be given again and why it has taken two years is beyond the ken of ordinary people.
Then Mr Corbell goes to a second dot point that says "has been proactive in initiating work for sites in Belconnen and Tuggeranong". I wonder if that includes the site in Monash that a local church group wants to develop as a combined church and aged care site. It had been waiting, I believe, for the best part of a year just to get a valuation on the block of land. I think people should be very scared that Mr Corbell's idea of priority is two years. His idea of proactivity is not assisting groups to get on with that which they want to do.
I think the most disingenuous comment that we have heard in the debate so far is Mr Corbell's when he said that Mr Cornwell had said that he should suspend the law for one group of Canberrans. He said nothing of the sort. He simply said-and the motion makes it quite clear-that we should give priority to aged care facility applications, and that is quite acceptable. You can assist an application to go through the process, particularly if it is for a high quality design and sustainability project. The whole purpose of HQSD was to make applications that met the criteria move far more swiftly through the process as a way of rewarding the applicant for making a more desirable application. It seems that Mr Corbell's idea of priority and proactivity are rather sad and I think that will scare people who think that ACTPLA is going to be better than it is already.
Mr Speaker, it was quite interesting that the organisers of the recent Australian health care summit invited the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Carr, to attend. Mr Carr made a couple of statements of which Mr Corbell should take note. The first was that we need to get better value out of the dollar spent, whereas this current government seems to spend dollars on health but get no better value, actually getting a decrease in service to the people of Canberra.
However, the more interesting thing was that Mr Carr made a statement about bed block and its influence on hospitals, and on waiting lists in particular. He gave the example of Newcastle's John Hunter Hospital, which serves an area about the same size as Canberra: there are 300,000 people in Newcastle and approximately 300,000 people in Canberra.
He said that they had gone back through the records and found that approximately 30 beds a week, on average, were occupied by people who really would have been better off in aged care facilities. That is where they should have been but, unfortunately, because of the lack of facilities in the Newcastle region, they could not get a bed. Their estimate-this is the New South Wales government's estimate and I have not heard this before; so Mr Corbell can take it up with Mr Carr if he has a problem with it-is that that costs them, on average, because of the length of stay in