Page 2437 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 29 June 2005

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and achievable, unlike the completely unrealistic and absurd promises made by the Liberal Party during the ACT election campaign.

In addition, a range of other measures continues to be funded in the budget process. Those include funding for our discharge lounges, which are proving very effective at freeing up more beds more often for people who need them following their admission or their being seen in our emergency departments of our public hospitals. In addition, we continue to focus on acute care for elective procedures. Additional money is also made available in this year’s budget to address that particular issue, with another $2 million per annum being made available for elective surgery.

The government has a comprehensive range of measures in place. I outlined these measures in some detail in my ministerial statement to the Assembly a couple of months ago about access to acute care. Whilst over time our objective is to reduce the level of access block, we have established a target that, in the first instance, reflects the pressures that our system is under and how we expect over time to reduce that level of blockage.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. It is interesting to see that 20 beds are coming because they were obviously promised for the frail and elderly. The question is: how can you say the trend will go down, when the rate of access block has doubled from 22.4 per cent in 2002-03 to 45 per cent in 2004-05? Is it not true that all the reforms that you and Mr Wood put in place have failed so far?

MR CORBELL: No, it is not.

Auditor-General’s Office

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Treasurer. The Auditor-General says that—and I quote from estimates—her office is “underfunded to the point it cannot do its job properly and government agencies are going unscrutinised, in some cases, for years”. This leads to difficulties such as undertaking efficiency reviews of the collection of fees and fines, as well as the statutory obligation of the Auditor-General to report on public interest disclosures. Mr Rod Nicholas of the audit office told the estimates committee:

We have not really got the resources to devote to our public interest disclosures. We are hoping that the additional staffing we could have got would have provided us a better capacity for that. It is problematic.

In light of those comments, I ask you, Treasurer: as that means that people making public interest disclosures may not have their concerns followed up because the government has failed to provide the audit office with sufficient funds, what confidence can people have that their complaints will be thoroughly and promptly investigated?

MR QUINLAN: It was only yesterday that I pointed out in debate that the Auditor-General, for next financial year, will have something in the order of $1 million in resources more than they had in the last year of the Liberal government. As best I can think, $2.855 million was the estimated final figure in 2001 of the budget for the following year, versus $3.85 million that will be available this year. We have seen something in the order of a 25 per cent increase in the resources provided to the Auditor-General in that space of time.

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