Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 7 Hansard (17 June) . . Page.. 2488..
MR HANSON (continuing):
opposite, I do feel somewhat compelled. Firstly, I can turn to the allegations which were made by the health minister that the Liberal Party—I think there was a slur on the Greens as well—by raising this motion today and inquiring into things like hospital car parks and other developments, are somehow against public health. That is verging on the bizarre. The role of the opposition, as I was quoting from Mr Stanhope this morning, is about scrutiny. It is about looking to what the government does, and that is our role. We would be criticised very strongly by Mr Stanhope, and rightly so, if we were not to do that. To criticise us for doing what is essentially our job—to inquire, to question and to scrutinise—and to suggest that that means we are against spending money on health is disappointing.
The facts are though that we want to see our health dollars spent in the most prudent fashion. We know that we have a reasonably reliable health system. At the moment, although we are getting some of the worst outcomes in our statistics in terms of the number of GPs, emergency departments, elective surgery and so on, we are spending the second highest amount per capita in Australia. Before we spend $49 million—is it $45 million or $49 million; it goes up each time we see it—we certainly should not be rushing that process through. We should examine the process by which such a decision will be made, and that is our job.
The debate is not about that issue. The debate is not about planning and it is not about health; it is about whether Mr Barr should have turned up to the estimates committee when he was recalled by that committee. That is the subject of this debate today, and attempts by the government to spin it towards a claim that we are against health are erroneous. Let us get back to the subject matter at hand. Standing order 258 makes it very clear that if a committee desires the attendance of a member, that member should attend. By not doing so, Mr Barr was in contempt of the Assembly.
Mr Stanhope: Where does 258 say that?
MR HANSON: It says:
If a committee desires the attendance of a Member as a witness, the Chair of the committee shall, in writing, request that Member to attend; should the Member refuse to come, or to give evidence or information as a witness to the committee, the committee shall advise the Assembly ...
Mr Stanhope: It does not say anything about his response—
MR HANSON: I think it is quite clear, Mr Stanhope, that—
Mr Stanhope: It says no such thing.
MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne): Do not interject, Chief Minister.
MR HANSON: If a member is requested by a committee chair and he refuses to do so without justifiable reason—
Mr Stanhope: What? Are Liberals allowed to interject, Madam Assistant Speaker?