Page 3315 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 20 August 2008

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Ms Gallagher: So you’d manipulate the market, would you?

MR SMYTH: The minister says we would manipulate the market. The market is dead. You have allowed the manipulation of the market, minister. You have allowed this to occur, because you have taken your eyes off the ball. That is why people do not trust this minister. She failed them in education; she presided over the planning of the closure of schools six weeks after the last election. There was the minister breaking her promise. It was gold plated at the time. The Chief Minister said it was a gold-plated promise when it was made, but the gold was tarnished, and it came off very quickly. The minister says, “They don’t trust you because you can’t deliver it.” We are not going to be like the minister and throw up our hands and say, “Well, there’s nothing I can do.” On every tough issue, that is what this minister does. She throws up her hands and says: “I can’t fix that. It’s out of my control.”

I want to bring to the attention of members the oncology unit at Wagga Wagga, that the people, the city council, the doctors and the patients got together. It is an oncology unit that, for many years under the Labor government, Canberra sent patients to, because successive health ministers—Mr Stanhope, then Mr Corbell and now Ms Gallagher—failed so dismally to listen to the community and look at solutions. The people of Wagga came up with a solution, and they were actually able to build the unit, staff it and keep it staffed, because they provided a system where people had confidence and had trust in the leadership that was being provided. What the people out there are telling us is that they have lost trust in the arrogant Stanhope government.

It is interesting to go back to the record and look at the pious comments made by Mr Stanhope in the lead-up to the 2001 election about the health system. He was just going to have a crisis injection of $6 million that was going to fix everything. Well, it did not fix anything, because it was simplistic. Labor’s fact sheet—so it is a fact—on its plan to rebuild ACT health states:

Labor’s new initiatives

Labor will therefore establish at least two after-hours clinics, staffed by general practitioners, to treat these patients with less serious illnesses. This initiative will be developed in consultation with the AMA and existing locum services.

These new after-hours clinic should be at the Canberra and Calvary Hospitals. But current Commonwealth-Territory funding arrangements prevent this. Kim Beazley’s Medicare after-hours policy will help fix this.

There you go. Before the 2001 election, they said there was a problem but they had a solution, even though the solution apparently was inconsistent with the federal law at the time. But, give him his due, it did not stop Jon Stanhope trying. When you go to 2004, it is interesting to see how much had actually been achieved.

Mr Stanhope: There’s no bulk-billing. There’s no dishonest spin.

Mrs Burke: That’s rich coming from you.

MR SPEAKER: Order, members!

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