Page 3200 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 24 August 2005

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At 6 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the motion for the adjournment of the Assembly was put.


Canberra Hospital—psychiatric unit

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (6.01): In question time today Mr Smyth asked me a question in relation to what he alleged was a stabbing incident at the psychiatric services unit at the Canberra Hospital. Mr Smyth made this claim with absolutely no evidence to back it up. He decided that he would take the opportunity in question time, as Leader of the Opposition, to make the allegation, knowing that there was absolutely no substance to the allegation. This allegation is without foundation. There has been no stabbing incident in the past 24 hours at the psychiatric services unit at the Canberra Hospital. There has been no occasion in the past 24 hours where a knife was smuggled into the unit and involved in some stabbing incident.

But that does not stop Mr Smyth, as the shadow minister for health. Indeed, it seems to me that Mr Smyth is quite happy to use this place to make any allegation he likes that might in someway throw a bit of mud that might stick when it comes to the delivery of health services here in the ACT. I would have thought that a man who purports to be the next minister for health of the territory, the next Chief Minister of the territory and the person who is given the privilege in every sitting week to ask the first question without notice to a government member, would at least give some thought as to what it is he is asking. But time and again we have seen from this shadow minister a tendency to not worry about the facts, to not worry about whether or not it is true but simply to use this place and the protection it provides him to make an allegation.

The allegation he made today was without foundation, without any substance whatsoever. There was no stabbing incident at the psychiatric services unit in the past 24 hours. There was nothing of what he purported to take place. But it is not the first time that we have seen this from the shadow minister for health. Of course he made the claim—and his colleagues did—a couple of sitting days ago that there had been over 22,000 admissions for elective surgery in the past 12 months. What Mr Smyth and his colleagues failed to notice on that occasion as well was that they were looking at the wrong statistics; that they were not looking at admissions just for elective surgery, they were looking at admissions for a whole range of other in-patient activities, including renal services, including cancer care. But that did not seem to make any difference; they were still prepared to make the allegation, knowing—I think, deliberately—that they were wrong.

That is the style of politics we get now from those on the other side of the chamber: make the allegation; throw a bit of mud. It does not matter whether or not it is true; it does not matter whether or not it has got any factual basis; just throw it and see what happens. I think the Canberra community deserves better. I think it deserves better when it comes to a man who thinks he should be Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory. If he wants to question the government on the delivery of health care services, this is the forum to do it. And I welcome it. But I do not welcome allegations about

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