Page 1053 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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things have changed. About a fortnight ago, standing in the pub, which is a rare occasion for me, of course!

Mrs Dunne: Standing, you mean!

MR QUINLAN: Standing—it must have been early in the evening, yes! I was talking to an old mate who said to me; “Listen, tell whoever’s in charge of that hospital that when I took my wife—she suffers from dementia and had had a fall—into that place, the service I got was exemplary.” I have to confess, I said, “Les, don’t tell me, write a letter to the editor.” Whether that might have been tilting the system I am not sure but I did rather think it warranted mentioning. I do not know whether he has written that letter.

In terms of the numbers that have been bandied around, and I think Mr Corbell has pretty effectively addressed those, I want to refer to one that, again, typifies the debate and typifies the thinking behind the motion. The number of NSW patients on our waiting list has increased by 40 per cent. Mr Smyth dismisses that out of hand: “I don’t want to hear that number—that number might explain something and it doesn’t suit the conclusions I want to draw. I don’t want to draw conclusions on facts so I’ll dismiss that one.” I think that typifies the approach that has been taken in this regard.

Mr Stefaniak also said there has been polling and that health is a primary issue. I am going to refer to some of the things that Mr Stanhope said. The most recent poll I remember was October 2004, where health was an issue, where that mob really pushed it to be. It was not just that they asked people what the main issue was, but also they selected it—“We want to make it the battleground.” Then they came up with this ploy to redirect jail funding, capital funding, into the health system, with no operating funds to go with it. That particular exercise before the last election has to go down in history as one of the dumbest moves ever, not only in ACT politics but also in Australian politics. “We are going to take all the money that was going to the jail and we are going to put it into health bricks and mortar but we are not going to provide any money to operate within that bricks and mortar.” You know why that happened, Mr Speaker? It is a fact that the suggestion was made over the radio by one Crispin Hull, about a day before it became Liberal Party policy, and they were just too thick to see the problem that was in their own stated policy. A fundamental blue, and this was the alternate health message.

Let me say, Mr Smyth, we actually thanked you for that along the way, because I really think that it did help the credibility gap. We have done polling—and I will not go into detail on it but credibility was an issue in the last election as well—and the results are on the board. I think Mrs Burke referred to people ringing the office and public opinion. I am most sceptical when any politician stands up in this place or any other political forum and says, “People are coming up to me in the streets, People are ringing my office.” This was the claim that legions of people—

Mrs Burke: Mr Speaker, on point of order. That is a clear imputation by the minister and he should withdraw that. He is calling me a liar, as good as. When I stand up in this place and say that people call my office, they do. He should have to withdraw.

MR SPEAKER: You have no point of order.

Mr Corbell: Put the records on the table.

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