Page 1039 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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to a decline. Yet there is well over half a billion dollars being spent in our health system this year. Where has it all gone? What are we getting for this money? What we are getting is fewer surgeries. What we are getting is longer wait lists and longer wait times. What we are getting is reduced targets for cost-weighted separations.

The public accounts committee, in its hearing into the supplementary appropriation bill, has asked questions about how the money is actually spent—clinical versus administration—and I look forward to seeing the answers. But I am prepared to bet that there has been a substantial increase in the cost of administration.

The case I have presented today shows that, no matter what measure you use, it indicates that the health system is costing more and delivering less. It is costing more and delivering less because the government and the health minister are not competent to run it. That is why the motion concludes by censuring the minister for his comprehensive mishandling of the health portfolio.

There is not an arm of health that is not untouched by Mr Corbell’s mismanagement. Even the Canberran of the year, Claire Holland House, suffers from a lack of government commitment.

Oncology patients are forced to travel interstate for treatment. And we know that in recent years Wagga—good old Wagga Wagga—has been able to set up its own oncology treatment facility, staff it with the specialists that are required; yet this minister, because of what he has done to the health system, is unable to attract those specialists to the ACT.

So what have we got? We have got waiting lists and waiting times at record levels. We have got fewer admissions. We have got fewer separations. We are getting fewer surgeries. Whichever way you look at it, Mr Speaker, the system is in trouble. And for that the minister must be held accountable by being censured today. I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (10.48): Mr Smyth’s difficulty with this censure motion is based on the assertion he made in his first sentence, and that is that there are lies, damn lies and health statistics. And it is regrettable that this becomes a debate about statistics, but Mr Smyth has entered into it; so I will respond accordingly.

Mr Smyth fails in making his assertions around what he believes are failures in my personal administration of the health system in seeking to censure me today. What he fails to outline is the context within which all of these figures are based and he fails to identify how those figures relate to what is happening on the ground. And I am going to work through each of Mr Smyth’s figures and address those.

First of all, he asserts that the inpatient cost-weighted separations target for 2004-05 is down 2,023 on the 2003-04 results. What he fails to acknowledge in saying this is that the way many of these occasions of service have been delivered has changed and, therefore, they are measured differently. It does not mean that they are not happy; it does not mean that they are not being delivered to people; but the way they are being measured has changed. But Mr Smyth makes the fatal assumption that, if it does not show up in the statistics in the way that he reads them, it is not happening. And what the

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