Page 2132 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 22 June 2010

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such a decision and there are no compelling arguments to suggest that any of these tests have been satisfied.

I can see nothing in the long list of achievements of either of the candidates that demonstrates that either of them is incapable of making an independent and objective decision on the merits of the material before them. As I have indicated, the ACT Greens will be supporting the appointment of Mr Volker and Mr Hull in these roles as independent reviewers.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.34 to 2 pm.

Questions without notice

Hospitals—waiting times

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report on Australian hospital statistics shows that the ACT has the longest elective surgery waiting times in the country. Minister, why do Canberrans wait longer for elective surgery than anyone else in the country?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question. I think we have covered the subject of elective surgery in this place a number of times. To begin with, the data that was released, I think on 17 June, is data that is almost two years old. Our current performance is—

Mr Hanson: It has got worse, though, hasn’t it?

MR SPEAKER: Thank you. Let us hear the minister.

MS GALLAGHER: Our current performance is improving. Part of the reason that we have struggled in delivering as much elective surgery as we could have is the number of beds that have been available in ACT public hospitals. It is interesting to note that the latest report showed an improvement—I think 2.8 per cent growth in the number of beds across the ACT public hospitals against a national decline of 3.8 per cent, with us improving the most. That is to create the capacity to deliver the elective surgery that we need.

We are also in an unusual position where we have two hospitals to share the entire elective load for our city. We have one of the highest utilisation rates of the public hospital in the country, second only to the Northern Territory. That does create some very peculiar conditions for the ACT.

However, when you look at our throughput, which is the thing that we can control—we cannot control additions to the list—that throughput continues to increase. The demand for elective surgery grows; our throughput grows. We have to concentrate on continuing to create the capacity and to increase our ability to work with the private sector, which is something that we have not been able to realise previously, due to some historical arrangements with our specialists. But we believe that we are at the

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