Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 February 1989)
Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 16 February 1989 Mr Dale: What does it ask me to do? What does the Regional Director ask me to do? Mr BELL: Mr Speaker . I knew that the minister was fairly limited but I must admit that I did not realise he was that limited. Knowing that he was about to present a ministerial statement on mental health services and having received such a report. I would have thought that he might have included in his statement a paragraph or so for the benefit of the people of Tennant Creek if for no one else who was involved. If this report. by itself. did not encourage the minister to take a sensible approach to ministerial statements in this House. I would have thought that some other events would have done so. I am referring to the transfer of 2 patients from Ward 9 in Darwin to Ward 1 in Alice Springs. together with the patient referred to in the report. I believe that that transfer has resulted in the patient from Tennant Creek having to be removed to Adelaide with a fractured skull. which gives an indication of why the word 'inhumane' appears in the opposition's amendment. It is more than reasonable to expect that the minister who is responsible for mental health services in the Northern Territory should give some satisfactory explanation of those circumstances to this Assembly. He has failed consummately to do so and he deserves the strongest possible condemnation for that. Mr Speaker. I seek leave to table this report to the minister. Leave granted. Mr BELL: Mr Speaker. that is not the end of the matter although. at this stage. I will deal with the actual statement from the minister. When one considers the plight of the nurses and the staff at Tennant Creek Hospital - not to mention the need for humane treatment of brain-damaged people - and the circumstances in the Alice Springs Hospital which were absolutely foreseeable on the basis of what I have been told about them. some of the phrases used by the minister in his statement are very interesting indeed. He said that there was a regrettable attitude towards mental illness and mental distress in this country. He said: 'It is interesting to note that. in some countries. people speak openly of mental distress and about the help available from mental health workers. Unfortunately. the attitude of the average Australian appears to be in sharp contrast to such openness'. It seems to me that the attitude of the below-average Minister for Health and Community Services is also in sharp contrast to such openness, given the fact that he presents statements of this sort to the Assembly. A little later, he said: 'I am pleased to be able to report that a progressive and accelerated approach to the development of mental health services has been successful'. That is a blatant lie, Mr Speaker. Tell that to the patients and staff .. Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark. Mr Dale: No. let him be. Mr SPEAKER: I do not need ruling. Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark, and advice from the government side of the Chamber. That is my Mr BELL: I am sorry, Mr Speaker. 5560
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