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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 397..


MR SESELJA (continuing):

He failed to address that completely. He did not want to respond to that. Rather, he just launched into broad rhetoric about human rights.

The government's position is that if you do not support their legislation you are anti human rights. Our position is that we can have reasonable differences with the government and, in fact, hold them to account in respect of whatever legislation is passed. The minister says, "You were wrong. There has not been a flood of litigation. What we are going to do now is see if we can increase the amount of litigation as a result."It remains to be seen whether or not these amendments will lead to a significant increase in litigation. Certainly, the administration of the prison is a potential area for litigation even of a nuisance value and even if there are no damages. That remains to be seen.

It is interesting, too, in relation to the human rights compatible prison that the right to worship is no longer being catered for with the removal of the chapel or prayer room or whatever other names might have been mentioned. I believe it was referred to as the quiet area. For all of the rhetoric, the right to worship was apparently one of the first to go when the cost-cutting came in. That is just an interesting little sidelight.

Certainly, the minister has not responded to these points. The fact is that this legislation potentially expands the reach significantly, and we acknowledge that. We believe that would have been more appropriate to do after the review next year. We believe also that it would be better if we could actually have some faith in the administration of the current law before we actually expand it to all public authorities.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 745 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.29 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Hospitals—funding

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Health. The federal government has rejected a proposal from the state and territory governments that no strings be attached to a $2 billion bailout package of state and territory hospital systems. Instead the commonwealth is insisting on reforms to boost the efficiency of our hospitals. The Productivity Commission has ranked the ACT hospital system as the worst in the nation on elective surgery and as having very long waiting times for access to the emergency department. Minister, what reforms will the ACT have to make to our hospital system before we receive additional funding?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question—and such an intelligent question on health too, which is unusual. The negotiations that we have been having with the commonwealth are about the next five-year Australian health care agreement. Those discussions have been occurring since, I think, 7 December, not long after the Rudd government was elected. The issue that the states and territories have been discussing with the commonwealth is a broadening out of that agreement so that it not only focuses on hospital care but also looks at the journey into


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