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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3842 ..

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mrs Cross for the question. In relation to SmartStart, I am aware that previous ministers have met with Mr de Castella, and I certainly have recently. The program has a lot of merit. I cannot answer the question today because there are some outstanding issues, primarily relating to the funding that is required to introduce that program. That would certainly have to be part of budget considerations.

We have to look at a range of issues in terms of the health and wellbeing of our student population, not just childhood obesity. We are looking at many of those issues as well. We already have programs such as health promoting schools, nutrition advice in schools and all the other health and physical education programs that are already offered in schools.

I have said to Mr de Castella and Mr Dozpot that I would look at it. However, because of the funding that would be required and the number of children that they would be targeting, it would have to be considered through the budget process.

MRS CROSS: I thank the minister for her answer. Pending the assessment of this program, and if the assessment was favourable, would you consider implementing it in the 2004 school year?

MS GALLAGHER: I think I have answered that as I have said that it would have to be considered through the budget process. I have to look at it in terms of the competing priorities for budget initiatives next year, but it is certainly in the pot at the moment.

Elective surgery

MS MACDONALD: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. Can the minister inform the Assembly about the status of access to elective surgery in the territory's public hospitals?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. Mr Speaker, yesterday I released the September Access to Elective Surgery Report, which showed a month of very important records: first of all, the highest number of monthly admissions for elective surgery since November 2002-the highest number of elective surgery effectively in just over a year; the highest number of people referred to the elective surgery waiting list by their surgeons since July 2000; and the highest number of people admitted for elective surgery for any quarter in over three years.

Mr Speaker, more people are getting their elective surgery as a result of Labor's $2 million per annum initiative. For the first time we have seen a very significant increase in elective surgery and we have seen one of the busiest quarters-in fact, the busiest quarter-of activity for the last three years. That includes the last year that that mob opposite were in government.

Mrs Burke: What percentage of those are still waiting for surgery?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, in the first quarter of this financial year over 2,260 people were admitted for elective surgery in our public hospitals-

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