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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 142..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

provide an additional $8.7 million immediately to the Canberra Hospital-$14 million in this appropriation bill for the Canberra Hospital.

Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: the Chief Minister is asserting that I have said things that I have not said. My question is: why will he be the first health minister in the history of self-government to allow the health budget for the hospital to go down?

MR SPEAKER: Resume your answer, Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: I will conclude on this point: I wonder if the shadow minister for health might identify which parts of the $18 million of additional funding we provided yesterday in the appropriation bill he does not support. Can he tell the people of Canberra whether he does not support the immediate purchase by the Canberra Hospital of the much-needed radiation oncology equipment? Can the shadow minister tell us whether he finds an eight-week waiting time acceptable? It was acceptable when he was in government. Does he find that it continues to be acceptable?

Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, my question was not about the second appropriation and the amounts therein; it was about the amount they have foreshadowed for spending in the year 2003-04, where Mr Stanhope becomes the first health minister in the history of self-government to reduce spending on the hospital. Will he answer that question?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, if you are going to raise frivolous points, you are not going to get very far. If you think you are going to go through the Hansard and dig up every instance I spoke on a particular matter as leader of opposition business as a way of creating a precedent in this place, let me give you some early advice: don't waste your time. You have not raised a point of order; there is no point of order.

MR STANHOPE: I am proud of the fact that we have moved, within four weeks of taking government, to provide an additional $14 million of funding for the Canberra Hospital. I am proud of the fact that we have moved within four weeks to provide an additional $18 million to health service delivery in the ACT. I am proud of the fact that we have announced an inquiry into education funding. I am proud of the fact that we have begun on the long, hard road of undoing the neglect and incompetence which was, and always will be, the hallmark of your time in government.

Needle exchange program

MS DUNDAS: My question is also to the Minister for Health. Can the minister confirm that information on the ACT Community Care website indicates that there is no longer a 24-hour needle exchange outlet program operating in Canberra? Recognising the important role that needle exchange programs have in public health, is the minister considering alternative arrangements to restore 24-hour access to free needles in Canberra?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms Dundas for the question. I am very aware of Ms Dundas' interest in issues around the government's proposals and programs in relation to drugs. I must say that I am very pleased to have within the Assembly somebody on the crossbench who is prepared to take a genuine harm-minimisation and compassionate


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