Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 6 March 2008) . . Page.. 638 ..
they have to be on the constant lookout for things like drug syringes in the playgrounds they play on?
The final area I want to cover is health. Our health system, according to our health minister, is the best in Australia. She says it is a health system that would make anyone, were they get to sick, want to get sick in Canberra rather than anywhere else in the world. But that is not quite what we hear. Are Canberra’s young families likely to want to face a health system that consistently is criticised for its poor service delivery, where emergency department waiting times are the worst in the country, where elective surgery waiting times are still the worst in the country and where we see things like staffing levels and morale at such a low ebb that we hear that notes have to be left on nursing station desks asking if anyone is available to work extra shifts, because there are not enough staff? We see nurses who want to retire but do not, because they feel they have a duty because of the lack of nurses. Nurses well into their 60s in many instances keep coming in, often doing double shifts, because they have that dedication. Is that right? There are some big problems here in health that affect young families, and young families especially are the ones where the kids do get sick and have to go to hospital.
I could go on; there are other things I could mention—simple things like the fiasco over the Tharwa bridge, the prison, and things like that—but I will leave it with those four particular areas. This is a government that has failed Canberra’s young families on many, many fronts. It has failed to deliver the kind of Canberra that our young families can be proud of and want to raise their kids in. Canberra has had a reputation over the years as a great place to raise kids, because it is safe, because it is easy to get around, because there were neighbourhood schools, because there was a good health system, because there were lots of things for young families to do, lots of recreational facilities. We have seen those run down.
The Chief Minister today spouted on about being fiscally responsible. We are Liberals; we like to see fiscal responsibility. But there are ways you can do that. By your own figures, you saved only about $4 million a year when you aimed to close 39 schools. There is very little money in school closures—but there is a hell of a big kick in the guts to a local community if its school goes, especially if there is no good reason for that to occur. That has a real effect on just the amenity of families in that particular suburb and it has a flow-on effect in terms of things like local shops. For example, following the Hall primary school closure, there has been a one-third drop in custom for the little general store there. Those are the sort of impacts you have on Canberrans and especially young families when you make the wrong decision.
The government has failed to deliver the kind of Canberra that keeps our young families healthy, well educated and safe. It has failed to deliver the kind of Canberra that makes that great Australian dream a reality for our young families and it has failed to deliver the kind of Canberra our young families deserve.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts) (4.10): It is a great pleasure to have the opportunity to discuss this matter of public importance. I suspect