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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4222 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

I will now briefly outline a range of measures that the government has taken since coming to office. The government has taken a number of significant steps in improving our public health system. We committed funds for the development of the Canberra medical school, an essential step in ensuring work force capacity for ACT Health.

Mr Smyth: Our initiative! We started it.

MR CORBELL: There's Mr Smyth again, I hear the echo: "We were going to do that too."They signed, Mr Speaker. They said they would do it. But did they ever commit any money to it? No, they did not. Did they ever put their money where their mouth is? No, they did not. This government did. We put money into the hospital for the training facilities that are needed, so that we can keep GPs and other medical practitioners here in Canberra after they graduate from the school, as that is so important for our work force issues.

We boosted mental health funding, by an additional $2 million in the 2002-03 budget, to make up for the appalling failure of the previous government to fund any significant mental health initiative in all the seven years that it was in office. We provided $1.8 million for Calvary's emergency department. We made available $1.3 million for respite care. Did Mr Smyth ever mention respite care to better support older people with dementia-related behaviour? He did not come near it

We began the difficult process of dealing with issues of access block at our hospitals, through additional funds for convalescent and transitional care. What did the Liberal Party do to deal with access block, better convalescence care and better rehabilitation and transitional care? Where was their commitment to that? Where is Mr Smyth's commitment to that now? He did not mention it in his speech. He did not say, "This is important, too."

A good health minister, and someone who aspires to be a good health minister, should highlight these issues. Instead, all Mr Smyth thinks Health is about is the hospital. All he thinks it is about is hospital elective surgery. He is transfixed by the issue. Where is his capacity to deal with the broader range of issues in the health system?

We injected a significant amount of money into new community-based services-$600,000 for home and community care. We acted quickly to address the lingering, malignant dispute left by Michael Moore over the last nurses agreement. We have just today resolved the key issues around contract negotiations for VMOs without dispute and without disruption to our public health system.

And Mr Smyth says, "We'll see."He is hoping for disruption to the public health system. He is rubbing his hands with glee. How irresponsible is that of a shadow health minister? He is someone who should be interested in delivering quality care for people in our public hospitals; instead, he is hoping for disruption because that would meet his political games. We have implemented a system to address those issues. We-

Mr Smyth: That's what you hope for, Simon. We're looking for better outcomes.

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, I heard Mr Smyth without interrupting.

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