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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1993 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 19 August 1993) . . Page.. 2515 ..

Health Complaints Unit

MS SZUTY: Madam Speaker, my question without notice is to the Minister for Health, Mr Berry. In response to question on notice No. 600 by my colleague Mr Moore, which appeared in the June Hansard, it was stated:

It is envisaged, with a smooth passage through the ACT Legislative Assembly, that the Health Complaints Unit will be operational in September 1993.

I have also noted that in the legislation program for the budget sitting 1993, tabled on Tuesday, the independent health complaints unit legislation is listed as a first priority for the Minister. My question to the Minister is: When will the legislation referring to the independent health complaints unit be ready for tabling in the Assembly, given the Minister's response to Mr Moore in June that the unit would be operational in September?

MR BERRY: It certainly was my intention to have the legislation in relation to that very important facet of Labor's health platform before the Assembly this year, but one of the most important parts of our undertaking to the community was a consultation process and a well-developed piece of legislation which would ensure that we had the support of all of the community who had a special interest in that legislation, in particular the health professionals. There has been significant consultation.

I regret that the development of the legislation has taken a little longer than expected, but I do expect that it will be introduced this year. It will certainly be as promised in our election campaign; that is, we will have a health complaints unit here in the ACT, one that we will be very proud of. That is something that never appeared in the platform of the conservatives opposite because they do not have that same concern. They do not have that sort of concern for consumers of the health system here in the ACT. They are not really interested in the public health system. We are, and we are also concerned about making sure that complaints about the private side of the health system are dealt with in a health complaints unit.

We are as committed as ever to the introduction of that legislation. It is a complex process and it needs to be done with care. At the end of the day we have to have something that has the confidence of all sides of the community who are affected by the legislation - the people who complain and the people who are complained about - and I am sure that we will get there.

Adult Literacy Programs

MR CORNWELL: Madam Speaker, my question is addressed to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. I note that she is extremely up to date on ABS figures, so she probably will not have any difficulties in answering this question in relation to Mr Keating's betrayal budget. I noticed that funds for the adult literacy programs throughout Australia have been reduced from $16.7m to $11.7m. That is a fairly substantial drop. Chief Minister, what effect will this have on the adult literacy programs here in the ACT, particularly at the Canberra Institute of Technology? What procedures do you intend to put into place, as leader of the ACT Government, to quarantine and to prevent devastating effects upon people seeking adult literacy programs here in the ACT?

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