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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 5 March 2008) . . Page.. 489 ..

MRS BURKE: I raise these issues on behalf of people in the community, and the minister then goes into denial and says it is not happening. I do not think she realises the impact that is having on people out there. The hospital system does require direction and leadership, Mr Speaker, and it is now increasingly evident that this health minister is not up to the job and not in control of ACT Health.

The minister announced another Monday plan some weeks ago. The minister said this new plan would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Where are the costings for this new revolution? What will be the cost for preliminary consultation, for example, and feasibility? More importantly, why should Canberrans be asked to even take this seriously when they still wait months for key elective surgery and then endure excessively long waiting periods in our emergency departments?

Just going back a step, I refer to something the minister said this morning. She said the government will not be able to agree to everything Mr Mulcahy has raised, and she claimed she attempts to work with the Assembly wherever she can. It is interesting that when this plan was raised no actual figure of any money was attached to it whatsoever, not even a statement that it will cost $5 million for a feasibility study. It is just out there in the ether as a plan that was presented on a Monday morning to cover up the serious issues that we continue to experience in this town.

Frankly, Mr Speaker, we do need time frames for outcomes. We need to know budgets for what is happening. We need the time frames released and the money attached. Reporting for the sake of reporting is unacceptable and not good enough. The minister must now stake her claim and hold herself and her department accountable. In conclusion, Mr Speaker, how much more time are Canberrans prepared to give this minister and this Chief Minister to fix the most basic of health issues?

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.26): I will be supporting Mr Mulcahy’s motion today. It is very important that we do discuss in the Assembly this issue, because it is the issue, as we well know, that is the major concern of most people living in the ACT. It is one that few of us can avoid encountering in our day-to-day lives either for ourselves or for the people that we care about. The issue of whether our health system is working matters a great deal.

It is surprising that the healthiest and the wealthiest jurisdiction has the worst waiting times in the country for elective surgery and treatment in emergency departments. I am well aware that I, like everyone else, am using statistics from 2005 and 2006, and I do appreciate that that is a limitation. I can only hope, along with the government, that the next such close-up view shows us that there has been an improvement.

It is always concerning to me when you ask governments whether they are doing something they always tell you how much they are spending as though that is a response in itself. We know that you can throw buckets and buckets of money at something, but if the systemic problems are not addressed then those buckets of money will not really make a lot of difference. To spend the money is important, but to spend the money in the right places and in the right ways is more important.

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