Page 1532 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 May 2015

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That is how inefficient our hospital system is—the equivalent of 2,000 nurses. If we had the same efficiency as that of some of the New South Wales hospitals, we would have an extra 2,000 nurses in our hospital system.

We will hear a lot of rhetoric opposite about money that was promised by Kevin Rudd—but never delivered, because it never existed—as an excuse, but what we see is a grossly inefficient hospital system that means we are not employing 2,000 nurses that could otherwise be employed. That is when you compare apples with apples.

We know that they are going to make some of the same mistakes that they have made previously. One of the ironies of this debate is that Mr Corbell is about to cut 60 beds from the proposed subacute hospital. That was meant to be delivered with 200 beds. Everybody knew that. The nurses federation has come out and made it very clear. Everybody that I have spoken to that has been involved in that process knows that it was meant to be 200 overnight beds. Mr Corbell has cut it.

It is no different from when he cut the jail. Remember that, Madam Assistant Speaker? The jail was meant to have 374 beds. He cut it to 300 because his budgets were blowing out. He said in an estimates hearing, “That will give us capacity for 25 years in its current bed configuration.” Now we are seeing history repeating. He has cut the size of the subacute hospital. He said it is going to be big enough. We know that it will not be enough; it will have exactly the same problems. No doubt what will happen is that the Canberra Liberals, when we get into government, will inherit that problem that is being created by Mr Corbell. I call on the government to actually deliver what they are meant to be delivering—200 beds, not 160.

Our funding must be sustainable. We see waste and inefficiency, the ongoing fiascos that are characterised by Mr Corbell. I remember asking him a question in estimates once: “Can you recall any project that you delivered on budget and on time?” There was a deathly silence. If we see that sort of ongoing fiasco in our health system, not only are we talking about not being able to employ more nurses as we want them but we know we just will not be delivering the services to patients that need them.

It is not simply a matter of what is happening within the health system; it is the entire ACT budget. You cannot stand in this place as the health minister saying, “Our priority is health; we must invest more money in health,” whilst you are also the Minister for Capital Metro and are shovelling about $800 million into that. Work out what your priority is. Is it health or is it a tram? It is very clear to the people I speak to, very clear to the nurses and the people of Canberra, that this man’s priority is a tram, and it is hospitals that are suffering.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (3.59): I would like to make this statement to start the discussion this afternoon:

The biggest challenge facing this state and the nation is health funding. And what happened last federal budget is not sustainable. That was, the commonwealth and the federal government said “we are going to allocate a large part of the future growth in health costs from ourselves to the state governments” …

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