Page 2538 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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Minister, the savings measures are not spelt out and the chair of estimates intervened to prevent that line of questioning in the committee. Can you please tell the Assembly: what are the three most important steps you will take to ensure that health meets its budget target that you say you will deliver?

MR CORBELL: There is a range of savings measures, and they are spelt out in the budget papers. You can see that for yourself. I am surprised that Mr Mulcahy has not paid that level of attention. For example, the savings measures and revenue measures encapsulated in the health budget include additional revenue through paid parking at our public hospital campuses—something that, again, Mr Smyth is opposing but Mr Mulcahy probably implicitly endorses because at least it helps with revenue issues. I would be interested to know the policy position between the two gentlemen on that issue.

Other savings measures include reductions in staffing in the central office area of ACT Health. That was an answer to a question on notice, in quite some detail, in the Estimates Committee. I am not quite sure which hearing Mr Mulcahy was attending at that time.

Of course, there is a range of other savings outlined in the budget papers. There is a range of measures in place. They will be addressed. As I indicated in the debate earlier today, ACT Health, and the health department, is on track to meet its budget this financial year. It met its budget in the previous year. We anticipate it meeting its budget in the coming financial year as well. We work to manage our system within the money allocated. It has been done this year and the previous year, and my expectation for next year is no different.

MR MULCAHY: My supplementary question to the Minister for Health is: do you expect that Canberra will continue to have one of the most expensive health systems in the country, at a cost of 35 per cent above the Australian average of $552 per head, as was published yesterday?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Mulcahy, supplementary questions must have something to do with the original question. The original question related to savings measures.

MR MULCAHY: The original question related to his capacity to live within a radically reduced percentage growth in the budget. I am ascertaining whether, given that this is the third highest cost per head, the situation is likely to continue.

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Mulcahy for the question. We certainly won’t be in that situation if we have this continuing policy approach from the Liberal Party. Mr Mulcahy is saying, “You are going to have budget over-run; you are going to spend too much money. Stop spending the money.” That is what Mr Mulcahy is saying. “You are spending too much; you are paying too much.” That is what Mr Mulcahy is saying.

Mr Smyth: Persistent and wilful misleading.

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, on a point of order—

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, withdraw that.

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