Page 1050 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (11.31): Mr Speaker, this is a grave and serious matter that we are debating in this place today. What theatre there was from the Chief Minister, yet again! But what did he actually say about the motion? Not a lot. I am sure he might be feeling a little uncomfortable today, but we will leave that there.

Minister, at the heart of this debate is the fact that, if the budget has gone up some 25 to 30 per cent, why isn’t the community seeing or receiving the benefits? Why is the health system still the number one area of concern? The Chief Minister has said that himself. You were the government; you were the minister, according to the Chief Minister, who was going to fix that. What is happening? This is the critical issue here. Are we paying more and still getting less? Are we talking about core financial management and lack of leadership by a minister? What a shame the Chief Minister had to grovel at the bottom of the barrel, once again. Of course, this is a typical ploy by the Chief Minister to try and play down this serious issue.

Mr Corbell asserted that Mr Smyth was playing politics. Mr Corbell, I assert that you are playing with people’s lives. You said it was regrettable, or words to that effect, that this debate is around statistics. It is regrettable that once again, no matter how you try to use the numbers as a smokescreen, you are ignoring the majority view of the community about what is really happening in our health system. This is borne out by the number of complaints sent to the Liberal opposition, to the media and no doubt to the minister’s office. We have heard, once again, the minister is playing with the figures—to hide what is really going on, I suspect.

This motion today is about the minister’s ability to manage the health portfolio. Is the minister running the department or are they running him? As Mr Smyth said, “Is this the true state of the health system?” We all know we can use statistics any way we want to. However, we cannot ignore the numbers of people in our community who are totally dissatisfied with the level of service. Only on Sunday, we saw another person having to go interstate, to Wollongong. It is fortunate that she has family there.

I think we need to take a long hard look at why people are dissatisfied with the health system and the level of service that they do not seem to be receiving. Are they all lying, Minister? Are they all not truthful? We are once again spending more and getting less. Where is the money going? I have asked the minister questions regarding breast screening and have not received satisfactory answers. This really is not coming from me: it is according to the feedback received from the people directly involved, who testify to the fact that Mr Corbell is wrong.

Who can the Canberra community believe: Mr Corbell’s figures and statistics or what they really know, that the system is letting them down? As his defence, Mr Corbell continually rolls out the statistics that there is increased activity. But why are the community and the media not telling us that that is the case? Mr Smyth rightly said that people are going interstate for treatment. I have read about one case and we know of another one going to Wagga. I pose the question: are we, as the nation’s capital, causing the community to go private—I suspect some people are forcing themselves to pay to go private—or go interstate or, worse still, sit and suffer?

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