Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 August 2018) . . Page.. 3486 ..
replacement ambulances have arrived recently, fitted with new electronic stretchers. As the motion does note, there is also a review underway requested by the minister.
Let us stop wasting time on silly stunts. We are providing and will continue to provide the supports that our paramedics need. We will leave word games to those opposite.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (6.05): The Greens are not persuaded by the assertion in Mr Coe’s motion that the minister politicised the public service. It is presented in the motion as a statement of fact. I think that, rather, it is a form of political spin in its own right, and one that obviously the minister has contested.
The opposition may well be disappointed in how long it took for this particular question on notice to be answered, and that is a valid point. I understand that the minister has provided an explanation for the delays, including the need to provide additional context to inform his answer. This reflects the usual practices of this place. The opposition are entitled to ask questions, and ministers answer them in the best way they see fit.
While ministers should always endeavour to answer questions within the designated time frames, there will be some occasions when this may not be possible. In these cases the minister should be in contact with the relevant member’s office, which I understand was done in this case, and an explanation should be provided for the delay. It strikes me that, if anything, what we have here is a case of tardiness rather than a political conspiracy, as Mr Coe seems to be suggesting.
While the central issues here—ACT ambulance staffing and crew levels—are crucially important, the minister has already provided a raft of information on this subject to the Assembly and the community. As Minister Gentleman’s amendment outlines, there have been 12 questions on notice on this topic in the past 12 months, all of which have been answered. We have also had two separate debates in this place on the issue and the minister has committed to undertake a review of minimum crewing as a key performance indicator. That review is currently underway.
Given all of this discussion and debate, it simply does not ring true to suggest that the minister has attempted to withhold or downplay information on this issue. Of course, at the heart of this matter—more important than the internal politics referred to in the opposition’s motion—is the question of whether our ambulance shifts have enough staff to provide quality care and meet the needs of the Canberra community.
The issue is clearly more nuanced than has been suggested by the opposition on various occasions. As we have discussed before, ACTAS uses a deployment matrix to guide and inform the best placement of its resources at any one time. ACTAS also goes through periods of high demand and, of course, low demand. It is not hard to imagine that, for example, 4 am on a weekday morning is regularly less busy than, say, a weekend period, or particularly a Saturday night, for example. It makes sense to me that there would be flexibility in the use of resources, acknowledging that there are periods of low demand. Resources should always be used efficiently, and I think ACTAS are best placed to determine where those resources are best deployed.