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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3618 ..

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003-2008 Australian health care agreement

Debate resumed.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (3.22): Mr Speaker, I rise to speak to this motion with some mixed feelings. It is amusing to see the government putting congratulatory motions on the notice paper for private members day when the truth of it is that all Mr Corbell had to do was talk to the federal health minister, Senator Patterson, because the major concessions won by the government are actually things that exist in programs. There is no new major concession here. These are all programs that were always accessible to the ACT government if it bothered to talk to the minister.

We advised the minister on many occasions, "Go and talk to the minister. Negotiate with the minister"-"negotiate", of course, a word of which Mr Corbell is very shy. We advised him several times, "If you just talk to the woman, go and talk to the minister, minister to minister, you might actually get somewhere."So, after weeks and weeks of bluster, weeks and weeks of drawing lines in the sand that we would never cross, and saying that we would never sign the agreement because it was so bad, who caved in first? Simon Corbell.

Mr Hargreaves: You are in the lower levels now. You are not in the federal parliament any more.

MR SMYTH: Who signed up first? Mr Corbell. Who got some additional benefits for the people of the ACT?

Mr Quinlan: If he went when you told him to he would have come away with nothing.

MR SMYTH: He may have got more, Mr Quinlan.

Mr Quinlan: So he did very well.

MR SMYTH: He may have got more, Mr Quinlan.

Mr Quinlan: By doing exactly what you described.

MR SMYTH: Mr Quinlan, he may have got more. I would quote the example of the 1998 health care agreement which Minister Carnell, at that stage the minister for health, signed very early, thereby gaining some of the best concessions for the people of the ACT that were ever achieved.

In the first instance, you almost have to laugh at the nature of this motion. We said on the day, when it was announced that Mr Corbell had signed up to it, that we congratulated him. He got the extra $58 million that was on offer, and it is a very generous offer from the Commonwealth. You could have CPI or you could have CPI and a bit, and Mr Corbell very wisely got the extra $58 million for the people of the ACT.

In Mr Hargreaves' speech this morning, there was talk of it not being enough. My memory of it is that funding of public hospitals by states has dropped from 47 per cent to

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