Page 1662 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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You would expect that, when the government released a public consultation document in the middle of last year that outlined very clearly the number of beds proposed—this is nearly 10 months ago now—he would have bothered to say something about it then. Quite clearly, now he has decided that he needs to make an argument that distracts from the ongoing damage his federal colleagues are creating in the ACT health budget, confirmed in the federal budget last night. There will be $600 million less in projected commonwealth funding; so he has decided to make an issue based on a straw man.

The facts are clear. The facts are unequivocal. Service planning, the assessments of independent academic experts and the answers given by my predecessor over a period of two years have all made clear that the mix and type of beds will be determined, with an overall capacity of 200. We are keeping our promise. We are delivering 215 beds, with a mix of overnight and day beds in this facility. We have been clear about that from day one. We have been clear about the investment we are prepared to make at the University of Canberra hospital. My predecessor and I, as the ministers, have been consistent in our answers.

The amendment I am moving today rejects and removes the falsehoods that Mr Hanson would seek to perpetrate in this debate. The amendment that I am moving today makes clear that the University of Canberra public hospital is a subacute facility with a mixture of overnight and day beds. It makes clear that my predecessor as Minister for Health consistently, on two occasions over the past two years—including directly to Mr Hanson in response to a question on notice—stated that there will be a mix of overnight and day beds. And it makes clear that we have undertaken the planning for capacity of this facility based on independent expert academic review as well as wide-ranging public consultation.

We are getting on with investing in and developing this important facility. It is going to provide great care. For the first time there will be a dedicated subacute facility for people with mental illness needing that step-up, step-down support and for people recovering from surgery who need rehabilitation and support to get their lives back on track. There will be brand-new hydrotherapy facilities and dedicated mental health residential care. That is what this facility delivers, and more. It does it as the University of Canberra hospital, in partnership with one of our leading tertiary education institutions, which is the leading institution in the training of nurses and allied health staff here in our city and in our region.

That is the long-term plan that this government has and the long-term vision this Labor administration has for health care in our city. All we see from the opposition are straw men, false allegations. They need to be put to bed, and that is what my amendment achieves. I commend the amendment to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10.33): What we appear to have before us today is the kind of debate we see and hear from time to time. It gets down to debate around definitions, people’s understanding of what certain terms mean, how a press release was read. This is certainly a classic example. We have got phrases like, “up to”, “about”, “equivalent” and “spaces” versus “places”. They are all being used liberally to make arguments. I think we can see that the result of this imperfect language is the sort of discussion we have ended up with here today.

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