Page 2894 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 13 August 2013

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But what I would say is that we have this government saying that they are the one that cares about nurses and the opposition is the one that is always on the attack about the health system. Let me be very clear that we have the utmost regard for our health staff, the doctors, the nurses and all the other staff working in our health system. The reality is that the ANF is saying that it is this government that is being disrespectful, and it is the ANF that is saying that it is this government that is insulting nurses with its pay offer. And I think that is very disappointing.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education) (4.36): I thank Mr Hanson for the stump speech he has given, again. The sum of the ACT health system and the local hospital network consists of the emergency department, the elective surgery system and now, since the Canberra Times has drawn them to his attention, the mental health system and wages. The budget as presented to the Assembly is much more than that, and deserves the initiatives that are outlined to be recorded in Hansard.

This budget includes major infrastructure spending and major investments of new funding over the forward estimates, including new beds at the Canberra Hospital, new beds at Calvary Public Hospital, new hospital-in-the-home places, more elective surgery, additional employment of nurses, doctors and allied health staff, more resources and capacity in the emergency department and more outpatient services, including, importantly, a significant amount of resources for drug and alcohol services.

That is what is in this budget. More support for cancer care is also included in this budget. There is more money for the women and children’s health centre, staffing for the enhanced Belconnen health centre, which will be completed later this year, resources for the new community-based walk-in centres, support for Indigenous tobacco control looking at targeting that to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, extra funding for advanced care plannings to discuss end-of-life care, and the establishment for the first time of an obesity management service within the health system.

There is also additional money for community mental health services for people exiting the Alexander Maconochie Centre and infrastructure services for clinical design, multi-storey car park design at the Calvary hospital and the planning and forward design stages of the new University of Canberra public hospital. These are all investments in the budget that did not get any attention from Mr Hanson.

The Health Directorate takes a considerable part of the ACT appropriation. This year’s recurrent spend is in the order of $1.3 billion and it grows at approximately 7 per cent on last year’s budget. It is an incredibly busy area of government service delivery—24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a system that is dealing with almost 120,000 emergency department presentations, delivering over 11,000 elective surgery procedures and providing dental care for 97,300 people. Several thousand staff are employed under various roles, whether it be as nursing staff, assistants in nursing, allied health staff or doctors either through the salaried system or the VMO system. It is a very important and big part of government, and it gets the recognition it deserves in this budget.

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