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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 3 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 754..


Mrs Carnell: Where does it say that?

Mr Wood: From cover to cover it says it.

MR WHITECROSS: Absolutely; from cover to cover. Mrs Carnell claimed that these VMO contracts were testimony to her ability to negotiate. What they were was testimony to her ability to capitulate to the visiting medical officers and to fob the community off with false savings - savings which she was never going to achieve. She disguised the inability of her Government to achieve those savings right up until the Auditor-General reported just this week. Mr Speaker, let us not be under any illusions about this: The reason why the Auditor-General was reporting was that we never believed her.

Mr Speaker, one of the key points in my motion today is the recklessness with which Mrs Carnell has misled the community, the recklessness with which Mrs Carnell has misled this house about this matter. Not once, but again and again, Mrs Carnell claimed that those savings were in the bag. Again and again, Mrs Carnell claimed that these savings were going to make the hospital system more efficient and were going to offset the additional costs to the VMOs. Yet it now appears that the whole cost-saving basis of Mrs Carnell's approach was fatally flawed. As the Auditor-General himself says, the key way in which they were going to save money was by reductions in services by the hospital.

Mrs Carnell: No, he does not say that. What he says is that he cannot see how it could be done without reduction in service.

MR WHITECROSS: He does say that, Mrs Carnell. That is a conclusion of the Auditor-General: Mrs Carnell was going to save the money to pay for the VMOs by reducing services in Woden Valley Hospital. Mr Speaker, that is the record of this Carnell Government. So-called "efficiencies" turn out, on closer inspection - - -

Mr Berry: On a point of order: The Government is squirming on this issue. I wish that they would not squirm so loudly, so that the rest of us could hear.

MR SPEAKER: Order! I think it is perhaps timely to make a comment from the chair at this point. A censure motion is a serious matter, and I would hope that this debate could be conducted sensibly and without interjections, as far as possible, from either side. There is no substitute for facts in debate. You cannot replace them with mindless interjections. I address that remark to all members of the house.

MR WHITECROSS: Thank you for that, Mr Speaker. It is instructive to note that the loudness of the Government - and we have seen plenty of it this week - is in direct proportion to the uncomfortableness they feel.

Mr Speaker, this motion is about Mrs Carnell's recklessness; her unwillingness to be open and honest with the community about what she is doing; her inability to come up with solutions which are real solutions, as opposed to imaginary solutions, as she has done in this case. This recklessness is a matter of increasing concern to all members of this Assembly. Again and again, we have heard complaints from the people on the crossbenches, as well as from people in the Labor Party, that Mrs Carnell's assurances to


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