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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (4 December) . . Page.. 3847..


DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question nonetheless. Do you still stand by the commitment to revisit the ACT's legislative options if negotiations with COAG, the primary industry ministerial council and Pace are unsuccessful?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you Dr Foskey. I have written to the Prime Minister, the premiers of each of the states and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. I have sought their support in having the issue of cage production placed on the COAG agenda. I have written to every agricultural minister in Australia and similarly asked that the issue of cage production of eggs be placed on the agenda of agricultural ministers for consideration in the context of the phasing out and banning of cage production. I have kept the faith with the commitment I outlined in relation to all aspects of that strategy.

The COAG agenda is set by the Prime Minister. Under Mr Howard as Prime Minister it was set and it was essentially non-negotiable. At this stage I am not quite sure whether the operation or administrative arrangements in relation to COAG that Mr Rudd will put in place will mirror those of Mr Howard. I have written to and sought the support of all the premiers and the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory.

As I said, I similarly have asked for the matter to be addressed by agricultural ministers. It is a collegiate process. These ministerial councils do not operate on the basis of "I hereby nominate this item for discussion as an agenda item"and therefore it is a given that it will be treated; it is a decision taken by consensus. I need the support of others. I am doing everything within my power.

I remain in touch with the egg industry board and with Pace Farm. You have asked about one other aspect of the strategy. I will take that on advice. Certainly, Dr Foskey, as I have indicated, if at every stage the ACT is thwarted or cannot receive support, we will keep alive our options.

Hospitals—access block

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Health. The target set by you and the department under the access improvement program for people having to wait more than eight hours for admission through accident and emergency is 25 per cent. Recent information provided to the opposition under the Freedom of Information Act reveals a worsening outcome, at 30 per cent, or the fact that access block is 5.6 per cent worse than your target. Why is the access improvement program not working?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mrs Dunne for the question. I welcome the opportunity to again place on the record that the access improvement program is working and access block is down. Access block, I think, for the final quarter of last financial year was down to 28 per cent. That is coming down from a peak of about 42 per cent three years ago. It has come down every single quarter since then, and it is continuing to decline. In the first quarter results, you see that those results have been maintained.

In some information that the opposition gets every month under FOI, they were provided with some preliminary data on these figures—a month of preliminary data


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