Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1720..
MR STANHOPE: I am not suggesting that it was your fault. I am simply giving you the facts. The facts are that I came to an arrangement with the previous Chief Minister that we would support a private members bill that she introduced on the proviso that there was a two-year sunset clause, and that during that two-year period the government would sponsor a Law Reform Commission inquiry into assisted reproductive technology in all its aspects. The government actually referred the terms of reference to the commission, and that was it. No work was done because the Law Reform Commission was not given the necessary support to allow it to undertake the investigation. That is what happened.
Mr Humphries: That is not true.
MR STANHOPE: I do not want to dispute this. The facts of the matter are that a reference was provided to the Law Reform Commission. The undertaking of the previous government was that the inquiry would be completed within two years, hence the two-year sunset period. The fact is that the inquiry has not been undertaken. The fact is, as Ms Dundas has indicated, that the sunset clause expires, or actually comes to fruition, in a couple of months time.
I am aware that it does that, and I am aware that the work has not been done. To answer the question, as a result of the fact that the work has not been undertaken on the reference, I have instructed the department of justice to prepare legislation to extend the sunset period for another two years.
MS DUNDAS: I wish to seek a little bit of clarification on that last point. Minister, will you be introducing legislation before the end of June to ensure that surrogacy arrangements in the territory remain regulated?
MR STANHOPE: That is my intention, Ms Dundas. I have issued instructions to the department of justice to arrange for the drafting of legislation to extend the sunset period by a further two years.
Ms Dundas: Will we see that at the next sitting?
MR STANHOPE: Yes. I would expect and hope that that legislation would be in place before the existing sunset period concludes.
MR SMYTH: My question is for the Minister for Health, Mr Stanhope. Mr Stanhope, given that the president of the ACT Health Care Consumers Association, Mr Russell McGowan, is reported in today's Canberra Times as saying that the continuing pressure on Canberra Hospital's resources reinforces the need to build a convalescence or step-down facility, ensure nursing home beds are provided, and set up an after-hours doctors service, when will you stop sitting on your hands and use the funds left by the Liberal government specifically for the purpose of a step-down facility?
MR STANHOPE: Thank you for the question, Mr Smyth. I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight and to explain how ignorant your position is on this particular issue. Certainly, there has been some pressure at accident and emergency at the Canberra Hospital over the last few days. Since taking over the portfolio, I have made it clear to