Page 3789 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 28 October 2015

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The $23 million expansion to ED is $23 million that was taken out of $41 million in the budget. There was $41 million put in the budget to rebuild the Canberra Hospital. The government ripped that money out and said, “We’ve got an emergency, a crisis at the ED, let us put that money there.” Dr Hall, who runs ED, came out and said that this is nothing but a short-term solution, or words to that effect.

The government seems to be patting itself on the back by saying it has recognised the seriousness and negative impact of bullying and harassment. I have called on the government to explain what its response is. The minister’s amendment says, “We recognise that there is bullying and harassment.” Hoorah! At least they recognise it now because certainly for the past seven or eight years they denied it. They denied it for years, remember, with Ms Gallagher in here saying, “There is nothing to see here. This is just mudslinging. This is just doctor politics.” It turns out that we were right, that there is systemic bullying and harassment.

What is Mr Corbell’s response? It is, “We recognise it. We recognise its negative impact.” A great comment is that ACT Health’s new director-general has publicly stated she will not tolerate bullying. Good on her but really I would have thought that that would be reasonably implicit. I am surprised that it is notable that the head of any department would say that they will not tolerate bullying in the workforce. If that is unusual in Health I am a little surprised. I am surprised that it is a notable event in any government directorate to say, “We will not tolerate bullying.” That is surely explicit in everything that this government should be doing.

We will not be supporting the amendment. It does not satisfy the requirements of the motion, which were pretty reasonable, to explain why we have got so many systemic failures, many of which the government has alluded to, and to explain what the strategies are, to address those failures and to report back to the Assembly. It is an eminently reasonable motion.

The problem that we have is that time and time again what is happening is that the government is saying, “Don’t worry. Nothing to see here. Look at this shiny thing we built over here. Everything is all good. Trust me.” Again, Mr Rattenbury says, “I will trust the government.” That was the mantra in 2010 in obstetrics. That was the mantra in 2012 over the ED doctrine. It has been the mantra in the latest KPMG review.

What you have is a situation where the AMA has come out and said, “No. We don’t believe this is going to work”. So they clearly do not trust this government, this minister, to fix the problem. We have got the ANMF, the Nursing and Midwifery Federation, saying that there is a critical shortage of staff in the ICU and that they have lost confidence in senior management.

Instead of coming in here with a comprehensive suite of strategies to address the problem, the minister is staying mute and just putting in a pretty token effort of an amendment that has no action items at all other than noting a range of things occurring in health—some good, some bad, some really just routine business.

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