Page 882 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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The ACT intermittent care service pilot will start with 25 community-based packages for older Canberrans needing short-term care. The Australian and ACT governments jointly will provide more than $1.9 million over 18 months for the pilot, which is being operated by the Baptist Community Services here in the ACT and in Queanbeyan.

I am delighted to be doing this. This is the culmination of a series of events around the need to provide further support for older people following an episode in our public hospital system. Of course, the opposition has sought, at every turn, to block this from happening, in terms of the operation of beds in, say, a revised rehabilitation independent living unit at the Canberra Hospital. They have sought to obstruct it in a range of other ways. They sought to obstruct the desperate need for drug rehabilitation beds here in the ACT, with their opposition to the refurbishment and extension of the Karralika drug and rehabilitation facility. It is indicative—

Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The minister is reflecting on votes of the Assembly, where the previous Assembly called on him not to shut Karralika and not to shut RILU. The minister is in breach of the standing orders and should be made to withdraw those comments.

MR SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, why is it not a point of order when he reflects on the votes of the Assembly?

MR SPEAKER: He is not reflecting on a vote of the Assembly.

Mr Smyth: Of course he is. He is accusing the opposition. It was not the opposition on its own; it was the cross benches as well. The minister will—

MR SPEAKER: That is a point you may wish to make as a point of debate, but it is not a point of order in the context in which you raise it.

MR CORBELL: As shadow minister for health, he should be promoting better health services in the ACT, not blocking them. I am very pleased that his federal colleague has a much more proactive approach to these issues. I was delighted to join with the honourable Julie Bishop in launching this program. The pilot program will see more than 120 older Canberrans at the crossroads of care.

These packages will provide rehabilitation and convalescent services for older people in hospital who need special care to help them regain their independence and return home. Of course, these 120 Canberrans could have been helped a lot earlier if it were not for the obstructionism of Mr Smyth in the previous Assembly.

This program will also assist people who need extra support to remain at home, rather than prematurely enter residential aged care. As our population ages, older Australians are increasingly demanding greater choice in how they receive care services as they age. I am delighted that this new partnership approach is now available here in the ACT.

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