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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (15 November) . . Page.. 3448..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

people. Queanbeyan, next door, has 36,000, and the region has up to about 600,000 people. Certainly, we and Queanbeyan share the same water supply, so together we have about 370,000-plus people. We are the biggest inland city and obviously we need water. So I was a little concerned to hear Dr Foskey say that we should be letting more water flow out. We simply can't. We have to do the bare minimum, which I understand we are now doing. Obviously, when we get further rain, God willing, the waters will flow. It is crucially important that we are part of agreements such as this, and it is good to see that this is finally coming full circle and to fruition. That is why I have made these points in this debate.

I point out to Dr Foskey that water did not actually flow through rivers in the old pre-dam days during droughts. We have had extended droughts in our history. Our plant life, our ecology, has evolved as a result of our unique circumstances. We are now in one of the biggest, most prolonged droughts in Australian history. We are also seeing the effects of climate change. It also seems that weather patterns are changing, and we are not going to go back to those average rainfalls of about 620 millimetres a year. We are not necessarily going to see the 494 gigalitres of water which used to flow through the ACT, on balance, during the course of any one year. We do have to be very cautious in our use of water. We do have legitimate rights to ensure that the people of the ACT are protected, just as we have legitimate responsibilities in being a good citizen. I make that point.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Health—oral and maxillofacial surgery

MR STEFANIAK: My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Minister, on 26 October 2007 the acting ACT health minister was advised of possible breaches of the Trade Practices Act relating to the conduct of oral facial surgery at the Canberra Hospital. The possible breaches involve allegations of boycotts and exclusive dealing in the current practices at TCH. Minister, what action are you taking to ensure that the conduct of surgeons at the Canberra Hospital complies with the Trade Practices Act?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Stefaniak for the question. I understand there have been allegations made around breaches of the Trade Practices Act. It is part of the ongoing discussions between a group of doctors with whom we have been negotiating for some time in terms of having a fully reintegrated service operational at the Canberra Hospital.

As the acting minister said at the time and as I have said on a number of occasions, this is a complicated matter between a number of doctors that needs very careful resolution. Through these negotiations allegations have been made in relation to a number of matters—one is around the Trade Practices Act; I understand it has been examined—and around the capabilities of particular doctors.


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