Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 26 June 2008) . . Page.. 2175 ..
proudly with the community of west Belconnen who have been driving this process. We take our hats off to them. All they need is a bit of government support. We certainly pledge that, and we stand very proudly behind that policy.
We note that members for Ginninderra, in particular Ms Porter, have not spoken. Ms Porter will be facing the people of Belconnen at the election in October and she might want to tell us what she thinks about it—whether she thinks $400,000 is too much to pay to ensure an availability of bulk-billing doctors for west Belconnen. It is a key part of her electorate and a part of her electorate that at the moment is severely underserviced by bulk-billing doctors.
We think it is an excellent initiative. It is a very small price to pay in the context of a very large health budget. In terms of bang for your buck we believe there are few better initiatives. An outlay of $400,000 will get this project over the line. Parts of west Belconnen are amongst the most disadvantaged in our community, and it will provide them with some of the services which they are sadly lacking. It is a good initiative. We call on Ms Porter to tell us what she thinks about it and whether she believes that $400,000 is too big a price to pay.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability and Community Services, Minister for Women) (10.59): I thank members for their contributions on this very important line item in the budget.
Not many speakers have addressed the actual content of the budget, other than the infrastructure program and brief mention of the women’s and children’s hospital, But there is significant new recurrent spending in this budget for health, including on demand for acute care capacity, mental health growth and promotion of recovery. I believe the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made the shortest speech on record in any budget debate on mental health. It did not quite make the two to three-minute mark.
I think that is probably because of his shame, when he was responsible for mental health, at being in charge of the lowest per capita spending on mental health in the country. I note that as the shadow minister responsible for mental health he was a little uncomfortable to talk for any length of time, and that is because of the proud record of this government, which has changed the ACT from being the lowest per capita spender on mental health in Australia to actually the second highest.
The budget also includes extra money for older persons services and cancer services—we will see increases in every budget from now into the near future—extra money to meet the demands for elective surgery, chronic disease management, critical care capacity for a second cardiac catheter lab, expansion of palliative care services and a scoping study for walk-in centres—the primary health walk-in centres that Dr Foskey talks about.
There is extra money for workforce initiatives, sleep studies laboratories, a new program for integrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family support services, primary care services at Companion House, acute activity, health services for the Alexander Maconochie Centre and a general practice work in Canberra campaign.