Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 26 June 2008) . . Page.. 2159 ..
That is why we have doubts about this government’s ability to deliver the $1 billion in infrastructure; with $300 million of it in health. You have only to look at what occurred with the step-down facility: Michael Moore announced it in March 2001, it was funded in the budget in May 2001 and it was only opened last year. The fact that that took six years to complete does not give me a great deal of faith that a $300 million swag of projects in the health portfolio can be delivered in the time frame that is set out.
We asked these questions of the minister in the estimates committee hearing. I am sure she will jump up and tell me the exact date when the young persons unit in particular will start. But given that this project is now running three years behind, I think it is a shame that such an important issue has lagged in this regard. I think it is a shame that, specifically for young people in the ACT and their families and carers, we do not have a clear outline of when that will occur and where that money will come from. The minister might like to take that on notice and bring it to the attention of the Assembly.
MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (9:56): If I had to sum up the manifest failings of the Stanhope Labor government over the past seven years, and as shown yet again in this budget, it is that they are spending more taxpayers’ money but actually delivering fewer services. Certainly, the biggest issue for people who contact my office is the fact that they have heard all about the huge amounts of money but do not see the waiting lists reducing in any significant way.
If there is one area of government services which really concentrates the minds of the community it is health. Health affects our quality of life and, unlike some other portfolios, it affects absolutely everyone. The Stanhope government has generated a great deal of fear and anxiety in the community about the provision of health services and their inability to properly target funding and deliver services in a timely manner. People have every reason to worry about what treatment they will receive in our public health system, both now and in the future, under the Stanhope government and this health minister, who is, as we know, the third health minister in the Stanhope government.
Despite all the extra money that has flowed into the health system, nearly $900 million in this financial year alone, and the largest amount of funding for health since self-government, we are told, waiting lists in our emergency departments and for elective surgery are actually getting longer, not shorter, in real terms. This is supported by recent information received by the opposition under freedom of information.
I have become well acquainted with the human face of this misery, with patients reporting long waits of up to 30 hours between waiting in emergency and receiving treatment or surgery. I have been told of rescheduled elective surgery, sometimes after the patient has been anaesthetised. To add insult to injury, these people’s representations to the minister often get duckshoved or, worse still, ignored altogether.
This budget does not address the vexing issue of waiting times. The people of the ACT are not getting value for money from the Stanhope government. Waiting times