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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 10 Hansard (18 October) . . Page.. 3185..


MRS BURKE (continuing):

Another case is of a young woman who was operated on for tongue cancer and then had a transplant of flesh fitted to her tongue. The transplant failed. Surgery then followed at the Canberra Hospital where a plastic surgeon, I understand, fitted the transplant. The tongue flap began to smell and went a funny colour as it died in her mouth. She was told by a plastic surgeon at Canberra Hospital that it would take time to take. When she sought another opinion she was told the new flap had been dead for some time.

It is not good enough for Mr Corbell to say what he is dealing with is a "demarcation dispute". What a union-centric way of looking at these tragic cases. It is not about a demarcation dispute. It is about the Canberra Hospital not having an oral surgeon to deal with these very specialised cases. I want to know why oral surgeons in Canberra have not been accredited to operate at the Canberra Hospital. In view of the number of complaints of botched jobs and misdiagnoses, this has clearly not been in the interests of patient care.

When a hospital puts a "demarcation dispute", whatever that is supposed to be, before patient care, it is in a sorry state. But it is the ACT Labor government at which we should point the finger because they have conceded that they have known of these problems with patient treatment in this area for years. If I do not receive a response in the Assembly or a private briefing on this matter, I here now say that I will be forced to start naming some of the principals in this matter in this chamber.

Department of Territory and Municipal Services—surveillance of staff

Emergency services—bushfire season

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (5.53): I rise to talk about two issues going to the heart of government competence and the question of openness. Firstly, I want to return to the issue of the secret surveillance of the TAMS staff depot. You will recall, Mr Speaker, that Mr Stanhope vehemently denied the strong allegations that I have received from a most reliable source that he himself authorised, or at least gave his blessing to, the secret surveillance of TAMS staff. Not only has the Chief Minister strongly denied that, which of course is his absolute right; he has also stated that by vigorously pursuing him—that is, by the opposition asking him to confirm or deny the allegation—I, Mr Pratt, have defamed him. He said that yesterday in this place—that my calls for a clarification about the matter amounted to a defamation.

This is extremely odd. If there is nothing wrong with the actions of the government to order secret surveillance, why is Mr Stanhope so touchy about being challenged? Remember that his officials and his minister in this place have supported the action of the surveillance. Does he not support the action by crying defamation? If he thinks the surveillance was unsavoury and unacceptable, as I do, what actions has he taken against the minister and the department? I challenge the Chief Minister to answer those couple of questions.

The next point I want to get on to is the matter of bushfire readiness. The Stanhope government really stands condemned through its admission in the Assembly here today that on the first day of total fire ban it had not been ready for bushfire season 2007-08. In question time today the minister for emergency services admitted that the


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