Page 486 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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We have an excellent health service here. Yes, people sometimes wait too long. The quality of our treatment is fantastic. We are not running an inefficient system. Our costs are coming down despite significant increases in demand. Every year, demand for our services in the hospital has grown by six per cent—double what was predicted. We budgeted for and were expecting three per cent growth in inpatient activity a year; we have had six per cent every year. But, even though we are growing at six per cent, our overall costs are coming down. We are not running an inefficient system.

We need to do more around this. The managers at the Canberra Hospital and the Calvary Hospital and in ACT Health are excellent. They are focused on the job. They are determined to make sure that we are prepared for the health tsunami that will hit us. It will hit us before 2020. Hopefully, the Assembly will get behind a plan that is only and simply about providing adequate health care and adequate services for the people of the ACT. I move:

Omit paragraph (1), substitute:

“(1) notes:

(a) the recent State of Government Services report by the Productivity Commission; and

(b) although the ACT continues to experience above-average waits in some areas, the ACT Government is investing considerable resources and programs into delivering record levels of elective surgery and improving waiting times for patients in the emergency department;”.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (11.16): I will be talking cognately to the amendment and the motion as a whole. Mr Speaker, to a large extent this motion certainly might be seen as a Johnny-come-lately, me-too approach, but I welcome any opportunity to debate our health system, particularly, our hospital system, and to discuss solutions to fix what I see as major systemic failures. I have said that on the public record many, many times in this place and outside of this place, and that is also backed up by the Chief Minister who says that there are systemic failures we need to address.

Given that, the motion before us is somewhat narrow. I think perhaps that is a reflection of the lack of knowledge in this area by the mover of the motion, as it fails to deal with what many view as the substantive issues. The Canberra community are very interested in the grassroots problems it faces rather than some grand plan for the future. Of course that is important, and I have never, as the Canberra Times has said, been dismissive about it, but I actually have an alternative view. Planning for the future is important—nobody would deny that. However, it is the here and now—the reports that we are getting as the opposition—that is really impacting people out there.

On that basis, there are a number of basic issues that need to be highlighted with regard to responding to this motion. The first, of course, is funding. No longer can the health minister plead a lack of funding as a reason for poor public health outcomes. This government, of its own volition, is the highest spending government with regard to the ACT health system in the history of ACT self-government. Let us look for one

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