Page 1596 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 12 May 2015
important to them. They also regularly support increased investment in health services by governments.
This Labor government supports universal access to health services. We accept that any of us could need access to complex health care and that that need should not send us broke. We have spoken many times about the decisions of successive governments here in the ACT to establish services to ensure Canberrans can access the health care they need close to home. However, we have also spoken about the sorts of cuts to hospital funding to be put in place by the commonwealth over the next 10 years and how this may force us to rethink the levels of services that are able to be provided.
Last week Dr Bourke and I spoke about the benefits of adequate investment in health services. We did not just speak about more funding for health; we spoke about the tangible benefits of a government that places the health system as its highest priority. We spoke about new services, new infrastructure and, most importantly, additional staff within our public hospital and health system, which this Labor government has funded to ensure that our community has access to the services that it needs to access high quality and accessible health services.
Regrettably, those on the other side of this place, as usual, came up with nothing. The Leader of the Opposition’s contribution to that debate was not only devoid of any vision or policies of his own; he got a lot of things just plain wrong. The Leader of the Opposition has done nothing to develop a coherent approach to the delivery of health services in the ACT over the past 2½ years. Now it is time for him to put some credible policies on the table.
Last week the Leader of the Opposition talked about the costs of our hospitals. He used a report from the National Health Performance Authority to note that our public hospitals have higher costs per patient than others. He did not say anything, though, about the differences in health systems across Australia that mean that the ACT stands out. The ACT has only two large hospitals. We do not have smaller or, as yet, subacute facilities that enable more activity to be counted against total hospital expenditure. And we do not have those common small hospitals in other jurisdictions that provide low level care, which also enables a larger spread of costs against a larger number of facilities.
But even ignoring what Mr Hanson said in his criticism, he has not come clean about where he will cut costs. A major part of the variation between the ACT and other jurisdictions is the average number and average salaries of our doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. The most recent publication from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that our doctors and nurses earn more on average than their interstate counterparts.
The question for the Liberal opposition is: will they be standing up today reiterating their concerns about costs and telling our doctors and nurses that they are coming after their pay packets? Will the Leader of the Opposition reduce access to elective surgery or emergency department care? Will he limit access to community mental health services? What about our community nursing services? Is this on the list of Mr Hanson’s areas for so-called efficiency?