Page 4727 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 13 December 2005
well. That is why there are 4,652 people ready for care on the elective surgery waiting list.
But Mr Smyth simply does not let the truth get in the way of a good lie. In fact, Mr Smyth was provided with the elective surgery waiting list figure in his freedom of information request, where the 4,652 people were clearly detailed. But he did not tell anyone that. That might ruin a good argument! He might be shown up for what we now show him to be—misleading the people of Canberra on this.
Since 1999 we have reported against the National Health Data Dictionary, which reports on those people who are ready for care for elective surgery. Recently the Auditor-General, in her review of elective surgery waiting lists, requested that the government also report regularly on the number of people not ready for care. The government agreed to that recommendation and we report on that. Indeed, page 39 of the July health services report I released this year shows both the number ready for care and the number not ready for care. We will continue to report on these figures every six months.
Where is the substance to Mr Smyth’s claim that I am hiding something? Where is the substance to Mr Smyth’s claim that I am manipulating the figures? Where is the substance to his claim that, in some way, the government is bodgying the books? There is no substance to any of those claims. If Mr Smyth is very happy for us to compare elective surgery waiting lists, including not-ready-for-care, during the whole term of the previous Liberal government, maybe we can do that exercise and see how it shows up.
But this is the reality: this government and the previous government have always reported elective surgery waiting lists on the basis of those people who are ready for care. We have never included in the waiting lists—and neither did the previous Liberal government—those people not ready for care. Mr Smyth is deliberately manufacturing an argument to suit his means. He is certainly not interested in the truth.
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, will you tell the Assembly exactly how many people were clinically unfit for surgery at the end of September 2005?
MR CORBELL: I do not have those figures immediately to hand. But I am happy to provide them to members. Indeed, as I indicated, on page 39 of the July 2005 health services report, released in September this year, both the number ready for care and the number not ready for care are reported. Maybe Mr Smyth needs to walk out of his office, get a copy of the report from the library and see it himself.
Let me clarify for members exactly what not-ready-for-care means: it means patients who have rescheduled to have surgery at a specific future date, patients who are too ill due to other medical conditions to undergo their surgery, or patients who have deferred their surgery for their own personal reasons, that is, at their request. Those are the definitions behind not-ready-for-care. In the future, when Mr Smyth does another FOI request, we will make exactly what is in those charts very explicit to him so that he cannot in any way seek to misconstrue—
Mr Smyth: Why didn’t you make it explicit this time?