Page 2897 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 13 August 2013
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (4.48): I do not intend to speak at length on this. In fact, I will use this opportunity to respond to a point the Chief Minister made regarding the politicisation of the health system, why that occurred and that it was unfortunate. I agree; it was an unfortunate set of circumstances. I think it was very unfortunate. But I make the point—and I refer members to the Auditor-General’s report on what happened—the executive who doctored the information said that, “It’s seen as an imperative politically to ensure we meet the target.” Now, I do not know who else that can rest with in terms of responsibility.
Ms Gallagher: You, perhaps?
MR HANSON: So the Chief Minister is blaming me for what happened.
Ms Gallagher: No, well, it could easily be you, Jeremy.
MR HANSON: When you have a health minister and a health system and someone who is doctoring data who says it was a political imperative to get it done, the question is: why did that happen? Clearly, the political imperative occurred well before this issue arose. The political imperative was occurring in 2010, well before this subject became one that was in the media and the Assembly in 2012. That political imperative occurred before.
When you go to the Auditor-General’s review and you look at what the executive said, you see she talks about fear for herself and her staff. She says there were feelings of fear, isolation and distress. She said she felt fearful for “myself and the other people that I work with, having being constantly told things like, ‘Fix the numbers. I don’t care if you stand at triage yourself to make sure they are referring patients to the walk-in centre. Get it done. I have told the minister that we will be at 70 per cent of patients being seen on time by December, so make sure it happens.’” The minister has to take some responsibility here. Clearly, when you have a senior executive saying it was the political imperative, that she was fearful for herself and her fellow staff and when she was being told, essentially, “We’ve got to get this done because we’ve told the minister we’ll fix it,” I think you can see where a lot of that pressure came from and where it was being applied. I will not have the minister say that what the opposition did in 2012 in terms of pursuing this issue was not the right thing to do. When you read the Auditor-General’s report you see that the politicisation of this issue with the demand that, “We’ve told the minister, so make sure it happens,” happened long before this became an issue in the Assembly and in the media.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure—Part 1.8—Economic Development Directorate—$86,082,000 (net cost of outputs), $152,843,000 (capital injection) and $7,945,000 (payments on behalf of Territory), totalling $246,870,000.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (4.52): The economic development area is very important for the future of the ACT. It is an area that still is not well understood by the