Page 2513 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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ACT mental health promotion prevention and the early intervention plan 2004-08, and yet there was nothing in the budget to expand mental health. I want to reiterate that point; it is a very important one.

To conclude: I understand that the Health Protection Service is currently finalising guidelines for approval of waterless composting toilets. I did ask in the estimates hearings about that and I was informed that there was a very low level of applications to date. This is an important area of innovation, with the potential to improve water conservation. I think it is an area that we could find more applications on if people knew that it was an option available to them. If we are going to encourage individuals to take steps to conserve the use of water, it is important that processes for installing technology such as composting toilets are straightforward and accessible.

Furthermore, I believe there is a lot of confusion about safe systems for installing grey water recycling technologies. I have had visits from constituencies about this issue and visits from people who are champing at the bit to do the work to install grey water recycling but are limited by the regulations or, should I say, lack of regulations at the moment about what is permissible.

It is really important that ACT Health pull out the stopper and do the work so that people can be provided with guidelines, not just on composting toilets but also on grey water recycling, so that the ones who want to—and I feel quite sure that there are a growing number of people who do want to—can reduce their use of potable water and can recycle as much of the water as they can so that they can continue to garden and do so without danger to their and their community’s health.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (11.13): I have a few observations to offer in relation to ACT Health. I am sorry that the health minister is not in the chamber, notwithstanding the fact that a former health minister is in the gallery.

Health is a legacy of the failure of successive governments to control costs and focus on the efficient delivery of services. As I have said before, although occasionally there have been attempts to misconstrue it, the fact of the matter is that Canberra’s hospitals are costing at least $104 million per annum more than they really should. I am basing that on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s data, which has been accepted by the minister as sound. It does reflect adversely on the efficient administration of health care in the territory.

What those figures basically show is that, if Canberra hospitals did the same medical job on a casemix adjusted separation basis as they are doing now, but at the same cost as the average of other similar hospitals in Australia, it would be costing us a considerably lower amount than we are presently outlaying. This, in fact, is reflective of an enormous waste by government—

Mr Corbell: As has always been the case.

MR MULCAHY: The minister, who has arrived back, has interjected that that is the way it has always been. If the measure of success in life is never to improve the state of affairs, then it is a sad and sorry day for the people of Canberra if that is the maximum

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