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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 155 ..

The single largest component of that, as members would be aware, is the billion dollar loan that we were forced to take from the commonwealth government when they abrogated their responsibility to Mr Fluffy home owners. The people of the ACT, through the territory government, have borne that responsibility solely. That is a very significant burden for the people of the ACT. The commonwealth having walked away from that responsibility when all this occurred under their responsibility pre self-government is disappointing.

Nevertheless, we are continuing to manage both the pay down of that debt back to the commonwealth as well as a record infrastructure program for the city: investment in public transport, in health infrastructure, the SPIRE Centre, the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. We are making the big and significant long-term investments to support this growing community and we will continue to do so through the budget update and through this year’s budget and future budgets in this parliamentary term.

ACT Health—treatment delays

MISS C BURCH: My question is to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. Minister, I refer to an article in the Canberra Times of 31 January 2018 about long waits for pain management assistance in the ACT. The article featured an interview with an endometriosis sufferer who said that she waited two years for her first appointment with the pain management unit and long waits for follow-up appointments. She states, “If you don’t have money then your treatment options are very limited. Basically my treatment is defined by my bank account.” Minister, why do women with endometriosis and other people with painful conditions have to wait so long before they can get an appointment with the pain management unit?

MS FITZHARRIS: I thank Miss Burch for the question. Certainly, that did appear to be a long wait for the pain management unit. But it is important to note that the pain management unit is working very hard to bring some of those wait times down.

MISS C BURCH: Minister, what is the government doing to assist low income earners to access the pain management assistance they need when they need it?

MS FITZHARRIS: The government is making many efforts to assist low income people in particular to be able to access healthcare services. The pain management unit is working on new procedures and is also working closely with primary healthcare providers so that pain management issues can be managed in a number of different ways. Having the territory-wide health services framework is an important part of making sure that all the relevant parts of our health system are working closely together, from our nurse walk-in centres to our GPs, our community healthcare centres and our hospitals, as well as our important outpatient clinics such as the pain management unit. Work is well underway on the territory-wide health services framework.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, what actions were taken regarding pain management prior to the up-scheduling of codeine on 1 February this year to address the short-term issues created by that change in scheduling?

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