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 the needs were being met through South Australia, and that was probably the most economical resolution at that time. I must digress to say that I found it repugnant to hear the moral ising claptrap that came from the member for Barkly this afternoon. He was a member of Cabinet from day 1 of self-government and is an ex-Minister for Health. He was a Chief Minister of the Northern Territory and, during that entire period, he did nothing about the problem. For him to stand in here and moralise is disgraceful. In the last 3 years, CLP governments have seriously and comprehensively addressed the issues at hand. They have allocated resources and hired staff in their efforts to overcome the problems. Mental health issues featured heavily during the last election campaign and the CLP put comprehensive plans before the Territory people detailing the measures we would take to address the problems during the life of this parliament. In this ministerial statement and previous statements, the minister has informed the parliament of our record in honouring the undertakings which we gave to the electorate. He has also indicated that research is continuing in assessing what will be needed in the future. That is not a cause for denigration of the minister. He should be praised, firstly for doing what the government undertook to do and secondly for explaining to the community what he has done to address the problems which have continued to exist in some areas. That is not a cause for complaint. Honourable members oPPosite want to pick the eyes out of issues, pick out individual circumstances and beat them into generalisations for their own political ends. They can engage in such games if they so choose. However, when it comes to the bottom line, residential and respite care are being provided and a comprehensive range of services is being developed for mentally disturbed people in our society. Considerable resources are being devoted to that, as we undertook to do. The job is not finished. There is more work to be done and the minister would be the 'first to admit that. For the opposition to say that we are doing nothing is a gross misleading of the community and that ought to be condemned for what it is. I would like to turn to a couple of other matters. Nobody has mentioned that the letter which the member for MacDonnell waved around and carried on about happens to be a briefing note providing background information to the minister. It was not a request for a decision. The minister was asked to note some background information. It outlined 2 distinct' problems: firstly, the serious concerns expressed by nursing staff at Tennant Creek Hospital about the treatment of emotionally-disturbed people and brain-damaged patients; and secondly, the matter of security, which did not refer specifically to emotionally-disturbed people. The example given related to an outpatient who turned up on New Year's Day in the middle of the night and tried to attack a nurse. Those are serious problems but let us put them in perspective. The memorandum explained to the minister what the department was doing to tighten security. It said: Measures to be implemented to resolve this issue include: perspex to replace glass Casualty doors; video monitor and intercom system, so that the nursing staff can see who is at Casualty door; 1 extra nurse on night duty to ensure that there are 2 nurses when opening Casualty door; a paging system for Casualty so that security can be called immediately; police to be,given a key to Medical Ward door so that there is no delay when arriving to help in a violent situation. The memorandum asks the minister to note the action taken by the department to overcome the problems and concerns expressed by the nurses. Members opposite forgot to mention that in this debate. I wonder why. 5578
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