Page 1650 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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Canberra. They are not impressed by your absurd priorities, such as building a new arboretum in the middle of one of the country’s worst droughts while the city’s botanical gardens have suffered from your failure to secure a water supply and consequent increased water charges.

Your administration is happy to monster struggling farmers in the ACT and cannot offer a dying woman any certainty about continuing to receive a disability support package granted by the Queensland authorities. Thinking people have come to realise that your words are only spin and do not represent what is really happening out in the community.

There is such a huge gulf between what you affect to achieve and what is really happening. In the same week that the opposition has highlighted serious breaches of workplace health and safety law at the Canberra Hospital, your budget papers claim as an objective to “keep staff safe and healthy” and to “manage environmental risks to ensure the safety of all people on ACT health premises”. Tell this to the nurses at the hospital who have been complaining for months about working in a construction zone. Electricity leads, rubble and other hazards have obstructed the path of patients—the health minister is leaving the chamber now; what a shame—staff and visitors alike at the Canberra Hospital as building contractors work unsupervised by hospital management. Gas bottles with exposed flames have been set down without any barriers around them in hospital corridors as contractors put down vinyl flooring, and other workmen drill concrete in patient wards with dust covering patients’ beds and presumably entering the ventilation system.

Words are cheap and we on this side and an increasing number of Canberrans know not to believe the usual pious statement of laudable intentions. Can you really be so surprised that, despite the unblushing and uncritical reportage of the Canberra Times, the Chief Minister and his works are not held in esteem? He is a lesson for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd because he is now Mr 70 per cent—just as Jon Stanhope was when he was first elected.

Now the health minister is telling us we are facing a health tsunami. You are obviously also facing an electoral tsunami, and whether you can latch onto a palm tree and save yourselves from annihilation at the polls will depend upon your ability, in concert with your left-wing barrackers and the media, to sweet-talk the electorate into believing your empty promises yet again.

In his budget speech on Tuesday—Mr Corbell, you might want to listen to the words of your esteemed leader—Mr Stanhope said:

Expenditure on health has close to doubled since we came to office. And those dollars have delivered results—there are 147 more beds.

Sixty of those beds are acute care beds. There is a record amount being spent on health—$888 million in the next year—but the government’s own performance indicators show that the services just are not being delivered as they should be.

Let us take the strategic indicator for emergency department access block on page 147 of budget paper No 4. Twenty-eight per cent of patients admitted by the emergency

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