Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett
Victor P Taffa
Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett has addressed State Parliament and has outlined the achievements of the first 17 months in office. In a series of extracts from the complete speech to the House Premier Barnett highlighted key policy commitments that have been delivered or on the way to delivery.
I rise today to provide the House with an outline of the Liberal National Government’s policy and legislative priorities for the forthcoming year. In doing so, I will take the opportunity to highlight some of what this Government has achieved in its first 17 months in office.
As Members are well aware, the first year of government coincided with the global financial crisis. As a result, the Government’s priority has been to protect the State’s finances against the impact of the economic downturn, and make decisions that build confidence, attract investment, create jobs and set up the Western Australian economy for the long term.
While the Government will continue to hold a disciplined fiscal line and drive economic growth this year, it will increasingly focus on social and environmental policy. This has already begun with significant initiatives to improve community safety, transform mental health services, give greater independence to some of our public schools, improve water quality in the Swan and Canning Rivers, and start work on a new children’s hospital.
Mr. Speaker, as Members are well aware, 2009 ended on a devastating note for Toodyay, after fire destroyed 38 homes on December 29. Before I begin outlining the Government’s agenda, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the volunteers and the many people from State Government agencies who performed so admirably in responding to the fire, both immediately and in the aftermath. It was a remarkable effort and we are all thankful that, despite the loss of homes and treasured possessions, no lives were lost.
Mr. Speaker, the former Labor Government squandered many opportunities to share the benefits of the boom of the previous decade. It is a travesty that the spoils of that economic providence were enjoyed by too few West Australians and that too many were left behind.
The Liberal National Government recognises it has a great responsibility to ensure the opportunities in front of us are not wasted. As Premier, I am determined that not only do we make decisions to ensure sustained growth, but that the benefits of a strong economy are shared with all West Australians.
Mr. Speaker, our hospital system will undergo a massive transformation as we expand the capacity of our health service with new and redeveloped hospitals.
As announced just two days ago, the new children’s hospital on the QE II Medical Centre site will begin construction in 2012 and be ready for patients in early 2015.
This year, the Government will progress the Royal Perth Hospital Protection Bill, which will ensure Perth retains a central city hospital with an Emergency Department and research capacity.
The Liberal National Government has started construction of Fiona Stanley Hospital. The 643 bed hospital will be completed in December 2013.
Planning continues for the redevelopment of Kalgoorlie Hospital, which will begin construction in mid 2011. Construction on the New Albany Hospital will begin early next year and be completed by the end of 2012.
The Midland Health Campus, replacing Swan Districts Hospital, will provide a new, modern facility for the Eastern Suburbs of Perth and construction will be underway in 2012.
Mr. Speaker, we are getting on with the job in health.
And in doing so, we are not only looking at new and redeveloped hospitals but improving the delivery of services in hospitals.
Last year the Government started implementing a four hour rule in metropolitan and regional hospitals throughout the State. The aim is to ensure 98 % of patients arriving at emergency departments are seen and admitted, discharged or transferred within four hours. All metropolitan and regional hospitals will move to the four hour rule this year.
The Liberal National Government has injected an extra $30 Million over two years into reducing waitlists. In 2009, a record number of 75,254 cases of elective surgery were carried out, 2,300 more than the previous year.
The challenges of delivering a quality health service in a State the size of Western Australia are significant. The Liberal National Government has made practical decisions to improve access to health services in regional Western Australia.
This Government recognises that the Royal Flying Doctor Service is very much more than an “interest group”, as they were so dismissively described by the former Labor Government. The Liberal National Government has provided $65 Million over five years for additional aircraft and crews for the RFDS.
To further assist West Australians living in remote, rural and regional areas of the State gain access to quality medical services, the Liberal National Government has invested $7.5 Million extra funding each year for the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme.
Mr. Speaker, I believe the record of the Liberal National Government to date shows it is not afraid to make hard decisions in the interests of all West Australians.
We have a responsibility to all members of our community. While the Government is committed to helping people help themselves, we recognise that not everyone has the same capacity to lead better or more prosperous lives on their own. That is why the Liberal National Government will focus on empowering those who have been neglected, hurt or marginalised to live with dignity, confidence and security. Social justice will be a hallmark of the Liberal National Government.
The Government’s commitment to considered reform will build stronger communities throughout the State. This will be achieved through both policy and legislation.
I look forward to a year of robust and informed debate in the Parliament this year. It is incumbent upon all Members to take seriously the responsibility of framing laws that shape the way we live in Western Australia.
Mr. Speaker, I wish all Members well for the 2010 Parliamentary year.