Parliamentary record : Part I debates (11 November 1986)
Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Tuesday 11 November 1986 housing - some $11.2m, an increase of $6m on last year's expenditure. Thus, the government is working to meet the housing needs of all Territorians. That same dedication and commitment is applied to the health of the community. Health care is and always will be a most expensive part of the government's overall budget. As our population grows, its health needs expand. Meeting' those needs requires not only compassion, but careful strategy and initiative to make the wisest and most beneficial use of every available dollar. This year, direct expenditure by the Department of Health represents $900 for each man, woman and child in the Northern Territory. This does not include expenditure on behalf of the Department of Health by the Department of Transport and Works in areas such as construction and maintenance. However, Commonwealth funding cuts and the introduction of the fringe benefits tax have not allowed the government flexibility to mount all the health initiatives that it would have liked. Despite this, by the reorganisation of priorities and the exercise of considerable financial restraint, the Department of Health will implement a number of new initiatives and strengthen existing priority programs. The government's policy is to provide the best possible health service for all Territorians but it faces 2 immediate constraints: the imposition of further cutbacks in funding by the Commonwealth government and the rapidly increasing cost of maintaining the health system. The Department of Health allocates more than 60% of its budget for salaries and ongoing costs. Members will be aware that a wide range of health professionals is seeking a wage increase, the most significant group being the nurses. If the nurses' career structure and work value claim were to be settled in the Territory as it was in New South Wales, the cost would amount to approximately $4m each year. We are developing our nurse career structure and we are working together with the Australian Nurses Federation in relation to that structure. The Chief Minister has announced already a reduction in public service staff of 400 in 1986-87. In less essential health areas, staffing restrictions have already been applied and the department is actively pursuing a policy of reducing health delivery costs to a minimum. At the same time, the Department of Health is encouraging private medical services, a move which reduces the strain on the public purse while allowing Territorians a choice of private and public medicine. ' A major development in this area is the proposed private hospital to be built in the grounds of the Royal Darwin Hospital. More than 80 expressions of interest were, received from all parts of Australia for the design, construction and operation of our proposed private hospital. Eight of those companies made formal submissions and I hope to announce the successful contractor in the near future. I am confident that the 100-bed hospital or thereabouts will be operational early in 1988. The CT scanner at Royal Darwin Hospital has been the subject of publicity for some time due to repeated malfunctioning. A Brisbane-based group of radiologists was selected to install,operate and maintain a new, full body, state-of-the-art CT scanner at the hospital. Initiatives of this kind are essential to the continuation of an effective health service in this era of high technology. However, this is not to deny the very exciting and positive initiatives undertaken by the government. 859
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