Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 26 June 2008) . . Page.. 2069 ..
Attorney, how do you reconcile these conflicting statements?
MR CORBELL: It is quite clear from the documentation that it was a factor being considered by government officials. I also made the point in my speech, which of course Mr Stefaniak does not cite, that it was not a consideration for the Chief Minister nor the government. And it was not.
MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Stefaniak.
MR STEFANIAK: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Attorney, are you being spurious and false or was the Chief Minister negligent?
MR CORBELL: Mr Stefaniak is being spurious and false.
MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, could you please update the Assembly on the government’s plan for the future health needs of our community?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms MacDonald for her interest in the future health needs of our community. When we look back at when this government took office in 2001, there is no doubt that we inherited a health system that was under enormous pressure. It was creaking under the weight of chronic under-investment. There had been 114 beds cut from the system, constant industrial disputes with doctors and nurses, pay rises that were offered but not funded, and chronic under-funding of the hospital system in general.
Since 2001, the Stanhope Labor government has corrected these mistakes. And we have done more than that: our investment in health has been corrected from a $472 million budget in 2001-02 to a budget of $889 million this year. We have restored the 114 beds cut from the system. But we have more than restored them; we have increased them. At the end of this year, we will have provided funding for 172 extra hospital beds in our system.
This is in stark contrast to the way that those opposite managed the health system before 2001. Our investment in health and health infrastructure is being documented in the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which has noted a 10 per cent increase in beds in the ACT, against a national increase of just 2.5 per cent. So we can see that it is not just me saying it; these are figures that have been validated in national reports around the health system.
We are providing record levels of elective surgery. There were 7,847 elective surgery procedures for the year to the end of April 2008—another 348 procedures above those recorded for the same period in 2006-07. We have also managed to settle all of our industrial negotiations with our workforce without resort to industrial disputes.
If we look at mental health, under the Liberals’ management, under Brendan Smyth’s management of mental health, we slumped to the worst per capita funding of mental