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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 June 2010) . . Page.. 2147 ..

MS HUNTER: Minister, did the government undertake any assessment of the appropriateness of putting families at risk of energy poverty into houses that appear to have large energy bills?

MS BURCH: For each family that is housed in the ACT, there is a range of properties. There are two bedrooms, four bedrooms and five bedrooms. There are newer properties and older properties. This is why we committed to this $20 million, which is no small amount of money, to improve energy efficiency, to target those larger, older properties where we need to improve energy efficiencies.

Families are supported through housing managers. They talk and meet. They discuss challenges in their tenancies and how to maintain their tenancies. Certainly household costs of energy are part of that. Approximately $300,000 has been spent on building shell improvements. Again, it goes to high-energy, gas-boosted solar hot-water systems. If families are experiencing struggle in meeting their energy bills, that is something that they can raise with their housing managers and we will explore that property to be next on the list for improvements for energy efficiencies.

Hospitals—waiting times

MR COE: My question is to the Minister for Health. I refer to the case of Allan McFarlane reported in the Canberra Times of 10 June 2010. He was advised a year ago that he had a risk of prostate cancer and was classified as category 2A, where surgery was recommended within 60 days. It took more than a year before he was booked in for surgery, on 28 June. Why has Mr McFarlane had to wait for more than a year for surgery, given that he needed surgery within two months?

MS GALLAGHER: I cannot comment on individual patients. I have not in the past and I will not, other than to say there are times—

Mr Seselja: He has asked for a comment. He is asking for you to respond as the minister.

MS GALLAGHER: And the individual has had a response—when there are shortages of staff. Urology is one of the areas where we are experiencing very long waits for surgery. What occurs in urology is that there is often a large number of patients who are category 1 patients in urology. They must be seen within a shorter time frame, and there is a lack of urologists. So the urologists’ theatre lists are taken up dealing with the urgent work. That creates a wait for those with less urgent conditions. That is the answer to the question.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary, Mr Coe?

MR COE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, will you confirm to the Assembly that your department only arranged for surgery after you and the system were publicly criticised in the press?

MS GALLAGHER: I do not get involved in matters about when somebody gets access to surgery. All I can say is that my office does not get involved in people

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