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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4315 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

who takes great glee in less people getting access to services. That is the sort of shadow minister for health Mr Smyth is-"Oh, let's hope that not so many people are getting these services because I can take political advantage of it."If he were seriously interested in the public health outcomes for the people of the ACT he would be welcoming these figures wholeheartedly. But, of course, he is not.

Let us compare this last October with October 2001. We have seen 142 more operations just in the last month than in the last month that lot over there were in power. So, no matter how you look at it, we are improving the level of access to elective surgery. Mr Speaker, an additional 431 people have over the past four months accessed elective surgery compared to the same period last year. That is Labor's $2 million per annum at work-more people under Labor getting the surgery they need.

MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question and I thank the minister for his answer. Is the government considering closing off access to elective surgery?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms MacDonald for the supplementary because it does raise an important issue about equity and access. The government was surprised to learn of proposals being considered by the Liberal opposition to close off the territory's public hospital elective surgery waiting list until all patients currently waiting have been treated. This was suggested by the acting shadow minister, Mrs Burke, about two months ago. Of course, the government considers this sort of proposal to be extremely dangerous. It is dangerous because the government knows, unlike those opposite, that you have to make sure that people get access to surgery based on their priority, based on their level of clinical need.

It would appear that the Liberals are proposing an alternative course of action. It is not a course of action that the government considers appropriate. We want to make sure that people get access to elective surgery based on their clinical need. We do not want to close off the elective surgery waiting list. We do not want to deny people who have an urgent need demand for elective surgery. We do not want to be so callous as to suggest that elective surgery waiting lists should be closed because we know what sort of impact that will have on our community. If that is the only proposal the Liberal opposition can come up with they have a long way to go in terms of presenting a viable, credible alternative to the people of Canberra.

CRASH scheme

MRS BURKE: My question is to the minister for housing, Mr Wood. My question concerns recent publicity about the homelessness crisis and, specifically, the CRASH scheme. Following my media release, and after I wrote directly to the minister on 8 October 2003, the minister issued in response a media release headed "Slash public housing and say 'Let them squat': Libs", in which the minister asserted, "The New South Wales CRASH trial may have some merit ... but there are questions about whether such a scheme would translate to Canberra"and "It's about time that the Liberals ... stopped grasping at short term solutions."

However, in the minister's response to me of 27 October 2003, he stated that his department was investigating the CRASH model and would engage a leading researcher

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