Page 73 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 9 February 2010

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MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Smyth has the floor, whether you like his views or not.

Mr Smyth: to be in the context of the original question. The original question is about the Productivity Commission report. I just bring it to your attention.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr Smyth. Ms Gallagher?

MS GALLAGHER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. No, the government has not considered the strategies that were outlined by Mr Hargreaves. With the closing of 114 beds, it has taken five or six years to return to a level where I think we are on the national average now, after being the lowest in the country, thanks to the opposition.

The issues around elective surgery are real. We are focusing on them. Part of the result is due to the government’s commitment to removing those who have been waiting too long for care from our lists. Whilst I have explained this a number of times in this place, the opposition fails to understand the strategy that has been implemented, which is that we could improve our statistics and be in the national results. We could do that very easily. The way you do it is by removing category 2 patients and category 1 only, and leaving category 3. That is a measure of people leaving the list; it is not a measure of people on the list. You could do that, and other jurisdictions may well do that. Their category 3s may be very long, but they are not part of the statistics that are counted. That is an easy way to do it. We could do it; we could fix it in one year. We could say to category 3 patients: “You just don’t get surgery because guess what? We’re going to get a difficult result in the ROGS data and the government does not want to be embarrassed by that ROGS data.” So category 3 patients, or people that have been on the list for too long, could be told, “You don’t actually get your surgery because we’re going to remove people that have been on the list for a short amount of time and that will improve our statistics.”

Yes, we could do that, but that would be flawed public policy. It would be wrong, and it would create a problem for governments of the future. So we have determined that we have a long wait list that we remove, and that affects our data, and it will affect it for some years to come. But it is the right thing to do, not the easy thing to do.

Mr Stanhope: I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.

Answers to questions on notice

Question No 346

MR SESELJA: Under standing order 118A, I ask for an explanation from the Treasurer in relation to unanswered question 346.

MS GALLAGHER: I am sorry, it might be in the pile of briefs that I have upstairs that have been waiting for me upon my return from leave. I will check and, if it is, I will sign it off as soon as I can. I am sorry, Mr Seselja, it is not something that I usually do. I am a bit late.

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