Page 1609 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 12 May 2015

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complex system at work out there every day in our city. This is not to skim over the very real issues that are facing the emergency department and the mental health unit in particular. These two areas are quite rightly raised often as needing attention, but I do not believe we can talk to the top of the pyramid without also considering the base.

The ACT Greens believe that fair, equitable and universal access to quality health services is a basic human right. We believe an effective health system must be based on primary health care and preventative health care, including health promotion, disease prevention and early intervention.

It also relates to things outside the health portfolio. Healthy living is a whole-of-government issue and goes to areas in my own portfolios. I am talking about things like physical education in schools, community and amateur sporting competitions, and Canberrans taking advantage of our beautiful natural environment, outdoor fitness facilities and active transport alternatives. The Greens want a whole-of-government approach to achieve improved health outcomes for individuals and communities, because we know this is the only way we can ever truly respond to the social determinants of health and thereby reduce the pressures on acute services.

The social determinants of health are the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness. These circumstances are in turn shaped by a wider set of forces: economics; social policies and politics; issues like housing, poverty, access to healthy foods; and many other conditions. But when we look at the health system in this way, we can see how vital it is not only to fund the hospital-based services well but also to ensure that universal access to primary health, such as visiting your local GP, is kept as unfettered as possible. That is why I have taken such a strong view in this place on the issue of the co-payment. It is a classic example. If people avoid going to their GP because of barriers up-front, then the potential for increases in acute service costs down the line is obvious when you think about the health system in its entirety.

I want to make those general observations in framing the debate we are having today, because that bring us to the specifics of Mr Corbell’s motion when he talks about the ACT government wanting to deliver a world-class healthcare system. For me that is about talking about the whole system. But then we do get into these very specific issues which are being debated here today.

I note Mr Hanson’s comments. He did not actually talk to the motion at all but instead spoke about tomorrow’s debate. I guess we will hear it all again tomorrow because he actually did not touch on today’s discussion at all. But I am very concerned by the points that Mr Corbell has raised in his motion, because what we need is continuity and certainty when it comes to health funding. We need to be able to plan ahead. Mr Corbell, in his motion, set out, I think, a series of factual points about the national health reform agreement.

Mr Hanson stood up and sort of said, “These things were never allowed for in the budget.” But we had a health agreement that set out a future pathway. The bottom line is that that has been undermined—taken away—and this has created a level of uncertainty that is very unhelpful. I think the point for me that I am concerned about

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