Page 4000 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 30 October 2013
As an employer of 22,000 people—some jobs are quite sedentary and others are very active—I think the ACT government should be leading the way. I would have to say there is a small part of me that thought this initiative of government would get bipartisan and tripartisan support. I know I have got the support of the Greens, but I am not hearing anything from the Liberals, other than, I guess, concern at the edges about some forced boot camp, which is not what this is about. This is actually about leading the way, setting a good example and encouraging best practice amongst our staff—not just in work practice but in the way that they live and enjoy their lives.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth.
MR SMYTH: Chief Minister, will you be referring this plan to the ACT Human Rights Commission to ensure that this policy does not discriminate against Canberrans?
MS GALLAGHER: It does not discriminate against Canberrans. It is always the easy way out of tough discussions like this. The minute you start to respond and say there is a problem with—
Opposition members interjecting—
MS GALLAGHER: I have not heard one positive response to this from the Liberal Party since it was released, and now you try to summarise it by saying that it is a discriminatory document. It is not. It is an aspirational document of a community we would like to see. The reality is that we have 65 per cent of our adult population who are overweight or obese, and that has significant consequences not only on individuals’ health but on the health of the entire community, particularly in relation to how we meet the health challenges associated with that.
As I said, there are links to chronic disease, diabetes, and the elective surgery program, for example, with a lot of knees and hips replaced because of people’s weight. All of this contributes to all of us; it is a shared community responsibility and it is one that we have to take seriously, or the Chief Minister in this place in 20 years will be explaining why 55, 60 or 70 per cent of all ACT revenue is being funnelled into the health system to deal with the crisis that this creates. I am not exaggerating here; that is exactly what will happen.
We have just spent a million dollars to establish a public obesity program in this jurisdiction. That is what we have had to do in this budget, and we will continue to have to grow that budget to allow it to deal with what we are seeing in the hospital. We have to change it, and the best place to change it is at work, where we have employees for 40 hours a week, and with our kids. And that is what the healthy weight initiative targets.
MS BERRY: My question is to the Minister for Economic Development. Can the minister advise what broad policies the government has to promote trade development and innovation amongst ACT businesses.