Mr HAMILTON-SMITH (Waite) (15:07): It is very apparent that there are serious problems within the health system. Those problems are evident not only at emergency departments where, according to figures provided by COAG, an increasing number of people are not being seen on time, but it also evident in our elective surgery waiting lists where, although we are seeing more people, we are seeing fewer of them on time.
Just this week we have had examples of ramping of ambulances at the Flinders hospital. The minister, in his answers to questions today, seems relaxed and comfortable with the idea of anything up to eight ambulances, with their paramedics, cab-ranked at Flinders, with patients on trolleys attended to by paramedics queued up somewhere around the entry point of the ED at Flinders. He thinks that is quite normal, he thinks that's quite okay, and he thinks that is just part of the ebbs and flows of managing an emergency department.
Similarly, he is quite relaxed with Modbury and, in particular, Lyell McEwin hospitals being overwhelmed. We have had a case, just in the last week, of the department being stretched to the point where 80 casualties were waiting to be seen with only 40 bays available, and there were not enough doctors and nurses there to treat the injured. The fact is that this is the coalface of the health system. He is the minister. He seems to be held up in his castle and to have created a moat between himself and the injured. Well, it is his responsibility to maintain the health system. It is his responsibility to make sure there is a doctor and nurse there when required; quite simply, there is not.
Of course, the problems go deeper. The reason that our health system is not functioning is because it is starved of resources. Why is it starved of resources? Clearly there is financial mayhem in the department. We have had the minister get up, just this week, and admit to the house that the Auditor-General is about to deliver a most damning report on his management of his portfolio. We were advised that there have been control deficiencies, inadequate management, a lack of attention to effective and timely reconciliation of accounts, an inability to trace transactions, chaos in regard to revenue raised from fees and charges, receivables and cash—the list just goes on. The Oracle IT system, we are told, has been bungled.
What we then find is that the Auditor-General has already pointed out to parliament that, when this minister took it to cabinet in the first instance, he misstated the cost of it to cabinet and failed to present them with a business case. Now he finds it is not working. The Auditor-General also yesterday belled the cat by pointing out that, even in its implementation, there has been inadequate financial supervision of the project by the minister.
At some point you have to take responsibility when you are presiding over mayhem. This minister must take responsibility for the financial mess he has created. He has had to put $10 million over four years into setting up a new group of bureaucrats to sort out the mess. All of this is starving resources from where it is needed in our emergency departments.
Then we have today very, very serious concerns raised in InDaily about the alleged cost shifting from the state health system to the Medicare system in a supervised regime of cost transfers involving some sort of a trust account and doctors being asked to claim against Medicare without necessarily their knowledge. If that is happening, they are very, very serious allegations indeed. They will be pursued in parliament and they need to be investigated most earnestly.
It seems that, in his effort to balance the books, the minister is now resorting to trying to transfer his debts and responsibilities to the federal government. I am sure the federal government will be taking a very keen interest in this, as should the Auditor-General, and the opposition will be making sure that it is so. For too long this portfolio has bumbled along without appropriate scrutiny. What we are now finding are the casualties of this minister's and this government's inability to manage the money and direct it to where it is most needed; that is, our emergency departments and the casualties who present at our hospitals.