Page 1656 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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Many initiatives are worthy of comment. Mrs Burke has referred to the women and children’s hospital initiative, which may be completed in 2012. Again, we have to reinforce this: as the shadow minister for women, I am very pleased to see this as a possible initiative, but I do not want to be just moving things around; I want to see new money, new resources, for new facilities for Canberra’s women and children.

In the area of family and community services, and in our own electorate, Mr Speaker, I welcome the money for the west Belconnen children and family services centre, which I think will make a big difference. But I am disappointed to see that there is not the final money needed to establish the west Belconnen health collective.

Ms Porter got extraordinarily agitated today when Mr Seselja spoke about our initiative. I need to put this on the record loud and clear, for Ms Porter and for Ms Gallagher, who seems to have conveniently espoused this view as well: in addition to the money that has already been raised by the community by contributions from people joining up to the collective and in addition to the roughly $200,000 already promised by the ACT government, we Canberra Liberals made the commitment the other day to double that so that the $600,000 needed to start off this fantastic project would get underway for the people of west Belconnen, who have very limited access to GP services.

By our coming out ahead of the budget and declaring our commitment to this, I was hoping that we would see the ACT government come out and say: “Okay, there is bipartisan support for this. Bob McMullan keeps talking about the need for bipartisan support for this. We will fund it.” The thing would have been started within weeks. It would probably take them four or five months to get up and operating, but they are ready to go; they have a space. What is it about the government that, for the want of another $200,000, they would deprive your constituents, Mr Speaker, and mine, of access to bulk-billing doctors in the most disadvantaged area?

I spent five hours in the emergency room at Calvary the other day. I was quite surprised at the number of young people with children there. Some of them, I know, came from west Belconnen. They were there because they had nowhere else to go on a Monday night with a sick child. That is not the place for those children to be. I saw a little boy who waited nearly as long as I did. He should have been home in bed, but his parents had nowhere else to send him. I was there because I had a child with a broken toe and that was the right place for him to be, but that other little boy did not need to be there; he should have been in a situation where he could see a doctor and be home in bed. His parents probably needed to be home in bed as well.

The Stanhope government has missed a lot of opportunities here. There are some things in here that are good. We will be using the estimates process and the final debate on this to highlight the good things and the lost opportunities. This is a budget of lost opportunity, but it is not a lost opportunity for the Stanhope government: it is lost opportunities for my constituents and your constituents, Mr Speaker.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.45): Indeed it is a budget of lost opportunities. And it concerns me that, like a lot of things it does, this government wakes up far too

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