Page 487 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008
moment at GST. The returns on GST are at record levels since 2001. Even on the back of a billion-dollar boom, we still struggle to keep up with demand placed on the system.
Mr Speaker, the Stanhope government can no longer play politics with the health portfolio and blame the federal government for a lack of funding, resources and policy guidance directed towards the ACT. It is now up to this health minister to play just as hard with her ALP federal colleagues as she did with the previous federal government. However, many do not see this happening in quite as robust a way as we might want. It is not good enough for the minister to smooch up to the federal health minister, Nicola Roxon. Some commentators argue that we are seeing cracks already developing in that relationship, which is fairly sad. Only time will tell whether Ms Gallagher will, indeed, place the ACT health system above the demands of her ALP comrades.
It is, however, very concerning that with a record health budget we still have evidence of systemic failure in a number of key areas. It is worthy of note that this motion is incorrect, and I think the minister quite rightly alluded to that. It is incorrect in its reliance on figures from the Productivity Commission report. We must remember that they are from 2005-06. I would agree with the minister there. However, more recent information received under freedom of information does show that, sadly, the situation has not vastly improved. The minister concedes that, as she did on radio station 2CC this morning. She says that we continue to lag behind the rest of the country on elective surgery and emergency department wait times with the feeling that more improvement is needed. She does acknowledge that, and she stands here today to say that.
We cannot rely on old information, but the information that I have is more up to date, and obviously the minister has even more recent information. It is really important that we are given as up-to-date information as possible by the minister. If she does have that up-to-date information in full, I would ask that she table that today. I have said it before that the minister does tend to be in denial over the situation at our Canberra public hospitals, particularly. In doing that, of course, she does our valiant front-line nursing staff, doctors, specialists and so forth a real disservice.
We talked about basic issues. It is very concerning, as I have said, with the massive health budget that we have of some $801 million that we still cannot seem to get this right, even knowing what we did probably five years ago that the demands and needs placed on us as of today would be coming. It is not like this happened overnight. I have talked about the discharge planning process, for example, which is appalling. That is an issue raised with me by nurses, doctors and patients alike on many occasions.
We all hear in this place that nurses are working double shifts due to lack of staffing and that they continue to work under pressure every day they are at work. Patients are being sent home with insufficient supplies. As a result, the minister seems unaware—she was yesterday in question time—of a key New Zealand and Australian working party which is working tirelessly in regard to the VT and DVT issue. That was something that we asked about yesterday. I am very concerned about a clipping from