Page 1242 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 29 March 2017

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MS LEE: Minister, will you reassure the Canberra public of your commitment to maintaining a diverse range of education options for Canberra families to access now and into the future by ensuring open conversation with the entire education sector, including non-government schools?

MS BERRY: Madam Speaker, I am not sure how many more times I have to reassure the members opposite. I have certainly reassured the independent schools, the Catholic schools, the public education schools and any other stakeholders who want to be involved in this conversation that they are absolutely more than welcome to talk about how we improve equity in our schools, how we make sure that children who are disadvantaged or from families who might be disconnected in lots of different ways get the best education outcomes, whether that is in a public education system, whether it is in the independent system or whether it is in the Catholic schools.

I would also reiterate the ACT government’s absolute support for the Gonski funding principles, which are something where the independent, Catholic and public education systems have all linked arms together and fought fiercely for, to continue into the ACT. These guys opposite and their friends up on the hill are the ones walking away from needs-based funding, which is exactly what the conversation is about. I know that the independent and Catholic schools are keen to be part of that conversation. They are absolutely part of it already. We are already talking to them. Whatever war these guys are trying to start here, it does not exist.

Health—colonoscopy waiting times

MR MILLIGAN: My question is to the Minister for Health and it relates to waiting times for colonoscopies in ACT public hospitals. Minister, in your answer to question on notice No 71, you said:

In the 2016-17 financial year to date to 21 February 2017, 651 category one patients received a colonoscopy within 30 days and 582 waited longer than 80 days.

Your answer also stated that it was recommended that category 1 patients received treatment within 30 days. Bowel Cancer Australia says only 17 per cent of people with a positive test for bowel cancer are seen within the recommended 30 days. Minister, why did almost half of category 1 patients wait nearly three times the recommended time in which to receive the procedure?

MS FITZHARRIS: I thank Mr Milligan for the question. I do not have the benefit of having with me my reply to that question on notice, but I did note at the time—and I think my reply also indicated this—that it was of concern to ACT Health, and they are looking very hard at improving those waiting times. I am not familiar with whether Bowel Cancer Australia’s 17 per cent figure refers to nationally or whether it relates to the ACT. If Mr Milligan can provide further information on that, I would welcome it.

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