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Thursday, 21 August 2003
Page: 19301

Mr LINDSAY (1:04 PM) —I would like to associate myself with the comments made by the member for Franklin. I have had the privilege of meeting Sergio de Mello. I met him in the early days of Timor, in Dili. The way that he brought that country together was just marvellous, as is the way he has continued to do similar work around the world. I do not think too many people know that Sergio de Mello probably would have been the next Secretary-General of the United Nations because of his conciliatory attitudes and his attitudes to making people recognise that peace is what is needed. I think that the words of the member for Franklin were entirely appropriate and his suggestion to the House today is also entirely appropriate. I thank the member for Franklin for that endeavour.

I would like to raise a matter relating to the Townsville Hospital this afternoon. In the Townsville Hospital there have been ongoing problems day after day, year after year, with the Queensland government not addressing those particular problems. I see in the Queensland parliament the Premier has this week indicated that something like 56 per cent of all presentations to the emergency department were for ailments like coughs and colds. The Queensland Premier then blames the problems on the federal government. I have sought to inquire into this, and I find the Premier's claims to be totally wrong. It is true that 56 per cent of presentations are in categories 4 and 5, but they are not matters that would normally been seen by a GP by and large. The problem with the emergency department at Townsville Hospital is that the emergency department can see people but it cannot get them into beds in the hospital when beds are needed. That is an appalling situation. It has happened because the Queensland government has closed down 2,920 beds in Queensland public hospitals in the last five years.

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 1.07 p.m. to 1.44 p.m.