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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 3311 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

I suggest the government really learns about transparency, does what it talks about and, even more importantly, does what it claimed it would do during the election campaign. I find it unnecessary, but I will support Mr Smyth's motion and I commend him for it.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (6.02): This government not only acknowledges the importance of openness and accountability; it practises it. In May this year, the government published the first monthly report on access to elective surgery in the ACT. The report is provided to the Assembly library as soon as it is completed.

Prior to this report, anyone who wanted to get a handle on issues relating to elective surgery waiting lists had to wade through a lot of data in individual hospital bulletins and try to compile a total ACT position. Now members, and the people of the ACT, have access to ACT-wide information in a single publication. Even though the report is available to members in the library as soon as it is available, I am happy to table it at the first possible opportunity, as soon as it is available.

Mrs Cross: When?

MR CORBELL: At the first possible opportunity. Let me quickly go through what the report shows: the total number of people on the ACT public hospitals waiting lists; the number added to the list each month; the number who receive surgery each month; the percentage of people who have been waiting for longer than the standard time for their surgery, by clinical urgency category; and the mean and median waiting times for surgery by category.

That is quite a credible and reasonable list of information. Most importantly, the report provides a clear indication of performance and trends over time. This greatly assists the community to assess the performance of the ACT health system in meeting their elective surgery needs.

I would now like to turn to Mr Smyth's concerns. Firstly, as I have already indicated, the government releases the elective surgery waiting list information as soon as it is available. We want to make sure the community has all the information it needs to assess the performance of the ACT health system. For this assessment to be effective, we have to be sure that the information is accurate.

This need for accuracy can impact on the capacity to provide the data on a set date every month. Unlike the previous government, this government audits the data to make sure that it is accurate and there is no duplication of information. On occasions, this will mean a delay of a couple of days in releasing the data, but I am sure the Assembly will agree that it is preferable to release accurate and complete data.

It is interesting that Mr Smyth is asking me to do something that he and his party could not deliver when they were in government. Under the previous Liberal government, waiting list information was published in hospital bulletins and placed in the Assembly library when available. There was no agreement-and there was no practice-that it was always released on the same date of the month, yet Mr Smyth comes into this place and says, "We did not do it, but you must."Gross inconsistency would be the way to describe that approach.

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