Page 2673 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 15 August 2017

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time line, and we are now heading into year 5. In the past few years, the demand for registrations under the scheme has significantly increased. The original policy estimates and operational funding for the scheme were based on an estimation of approximately 14,000 applications per year and an overall scheme of 42,000. As at July 2017, there were just over 100,000 current registrations. So in this budget the government is providing over $1.65 million in additional funding to meet this demand, by funding an additional eight full-time employees within Access Canberra. These additional staff will be assisting customers with their queries and applications, undertaking risk assessments on applications and leading compliance activities.

A commitment made by this government in the last election was to encourage outdoor dining. This is now a funded commitment. The ACT government will be providing one month’s free rental of public space for outdoor dining every year to every business, reducing costs for existing businesses and giving restaurants and bars a chance to try new spaces for free. By providing this financial incentive, the government aims to grow the economy by increasing the number of existing food businesses with outdoor dining and encouraging new businesses with free trials. This fee change is the equivalent to an eight per cent reduction in business costs annually.

Finally, in this budget the government has shown its commitment to ensuring the safety of the territory’s citizens, whether at work or play, and continues to focus on delivering a state-of-the-art, one-stop shop for the people of Canberra. Access Canberra continues to put the customer at the centre and progress the government’s vision to become a leader in customer and regulatory services.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.24 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Canberra Hospital—emergency waiting times

MR COE: My question is to the minister for health. Minister, you said in this place on 1 August about Canberra Hospital emergency department waiting times: “We are seeing our waiting times coming down.” ACT Health has not released any data about hospital emergency waiting times since last year due to the ongoing problems with health data. What evidence do you have to back your claims that Canberra Hospital emergency department waiting times are in fact coming down?

MS FITZHARRIS: I thank Mr Coe for his question. Indeed Canberra Hospital emergency department waiting times are coming down. I am regularly briefed by Canberra Hospital and by ACT Health on the performance of the emergency department. There is internal information directly sourced from the emergency department on a daily basis, and I am pleased to say the broad trend is that emergency department waiting times are coming down. The expansion and the additional staff in the Canberra Hospital emergency department finalised late last year have certainly contributed to that.

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