Page 3770 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 27 August 2008

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MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms MacDonald?

MS MacDONALD: Thank you. My supplementary question is this. Minister, what does the report tell us about the emerging challenges our health system will face?

MS GALLAGHER: The report does, as I said, highlight a number of areas where we are facing big shifts in the number of people living with particular illnesses and diseases and also the demographic profile of the ACT. It shows that there are health inequalities between population groups. For example, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the ACT do not enjoy the same health outcomes as the non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. It goes to the social factors that influence health differently; it goes to issues such as disease prevention issues; and of course it goes to hospital service access issues.

This report, particularly around how we provide public health services for the future, is a really important planning document and one that cannot simply be ignored. We have picked up a lot of this data as we have gone on with the 18 months of planning work that we have done to lead to the government’s plan, the Your health: our priority: ready for the future document, which we have released for the $300 million allocation that we have already provided to completely reconfigure our public health system. It is not just about the building or building up the public hospitals; it is about making sure that we have the right amount of community health services that are publicly funded right across the city.

The demands on our health system are immense. Over the next 10 to 15 years, we will see growth in demand for health services that this city has never experienced in the past. We are almost expecting to see hospital overnight admissions alone increase by 50 per cent. Our population is going to change significantly. We are getting older, we are getting sicker and we are living longer. All of that adds up to the fact that, unless we prepare to take these decisions now and set out on the journey to prepare our health system, we are not going to be able to meet the health needs of this city. That is just not acceptable.

This again goes to the issue of the difference between Labor and Liberal. I know that we will have the pleasure of going over this many times. Maybe you won’t, Mr Speaker, but all of us will have the pleasure of going through this many times over the next eight weeks. This will emerge as one of the major differences in the campaign.

Over there we have a party that has been absolutely silent on public health, the public health system and any plans for the future—absolutely silent. We have outlined our plans and our vision. We have worked with the community; we have talked with the community. We have talked with health professionals; we have talked with patient groups; we have talked with consumer representatives. We have talked with all the major stakeholders about what the city needs in terms of a public health system.

The response we have got has been overwhelmingly supportive. Absolutely anybody who had a look at this work or talked with me about this work is supportive of this direction—everybody except Mrs Burke, who likens it to spaceships and sending

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