Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 August 2008) . . Page.. 3611 ..
people of the ACT—millions and millions of dollars—and when you consider the extent to which they do capital works and are responsible for our bus services and a range of issues around the environmental management of the city, including the sport and recreational aspects of the city, it is prudent that they take independent advice from time to time.
In my view the question really should contain the following statement: And we congratulate the Department of Territory and Municipal Services for having the foresight to take independent advice. Not to take independent advice on where we are going with budgetary provisions would be short-sighted and myopic, and I have to tell you that the only thing I know about short-sightedness and myopia comes from across the chamber and certainly not from anybody in my department.
MS PORTER: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, could you provide further details on how you are providing new and innovative models of health care in the ACT, such as at the Gungahlin community health centre?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Porter for the question. I have said it a number of times: it is no secret that, when we took office in 2001, we inherited a health system that was fracturing under the weight of chronic under-investment and a lack of acknowledgement of the importance of health services from the then government, the current opposition. In fact, Mr Speaker, when you look at published data for that period, AIHW figures show that the ACT was the only jurisdiction that actually had negative growth in health. In every other jurisdiction it grew from three per cent to six per cent per annum, and in the ACT we had a negative one per cent cut to the health budget. We all saw the reality of that when we came to office and became aware of the true situation.
Of course, this was indicated by the constant fighting with the workforce and the lack of provision for adequate remuneration for our health workforce. It was indicated by the 114 beds that had been cut from the system and the reduction in service being provided to the Canberra community.
We have turned that situation around. We have increased funding; in fact, it has almost doubled, from just under $500 million in 2001 to $889 million in this year’s budget. It is a near doubling of spending on our community’s health system, not negative growth, as was the mission of the Smyth government—or it would have been if he could have been. Mr Smyth and Mr Stefaniak’s government had seen that cut to the health system.
We have funded an additional 147 beds. We have 24 more to come this year. By the time they are in place, the ACT will enjoy, for the first time, 855 beds, getting us back to where we were in the early 1990s. We have got more to do on that front, of course. We need to provide for more and extended services in our acute care system. But we also need to look at how we provide health care. One such way is to look at how we use our existing community health centre infrastructure. As everyone would know, we have very good community health centres located right across the city—in Tuggeranong, Dickson, the city and Belconnen.