Page 2070 - Week 06 - Thursday, 26 June 2008

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health in the country, and we have changed that. In the latest report on Australian mental health spending, we have now become the second best in the country. And we have invested more this year in mental health. We have funded a mental health precinct while increasing our mental health budget by another $3 million a year.

What we can see from when those opposite were left to manage the health system is a health system in chaos—one with chronic under-funding. I think they were the only jurisdiction in 2001 in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare statistics to actually record negative growth in health funding. How you record negative growth funding when health systems have been growing from anywhere between six and 10 per cent a year is absolutely incredible to me.

And what do we see now? We see no change in this regard. We are in an election year; we are 15 weeks out. What have we had? We have had one policy around funding a private GP practice to the tune of $200,000 a year. So what is going to happen with the other $888,800,000? That is the key question. What are you going to do with it? What is the only announcement we have had from Captain Seselja and his team of invisible members? I don’t know how he is controlling all of your egos but we don’t hear a word from the shadow minister for health any more. I think it is probably because Canberrans just could not believe that Mrs Burke would become health minister. They just could not believe that that is what would be put in charge of the health system.

Mrs Burke: “That”?

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Burke, order!

MS GALLAGHER: And Mr Seselja has had the conversation. He has said: “Jacqui, can you just stay off the news, please? When you get that urge to ring up the radio station and have a go, just don’t do it.” She is told, “Ring through to Zed’s office and get him to make the call.” That one policy, a $200,000 policy to fund a private GP practice, is the only policy that this opposition have come up with.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Members of the opposition, cease interjecting!

MS GALLAGHER: Fifteen weeks out, with respect to the most important issue in the election, what have we got? Using public money to fund a private GP practice. That is the only policy we have come up with.

Mrs Burke: Oh, you don’t—

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mrs Burke! Cease interjecting.

MS GALLAGHER: And they seriously do not think that Jacqui can be health minister. I think that is the only reason why we have not heard the dulcet tones of Jacqui Burke tinkling on the radio in the morning. I have quite enjoyed it myself, but we have missed you, Mrs Burke; come back. Rise up against the challenge of being told to be mute and make a statement around health.

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