Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2472..
MR STANHOPE: That was the advice to me, Ms Tucker. I am more than happy to seek to identify the source of that and make it available.
Hepatitis C Council-funding
MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. I refer to funding for the Hepatitis C Council which was due to expire on 30 June 2003. According to the terms of the contract, all funding had to be spent by that date. The ACT health department recently advised the council, just before 7 pm on Wednesday, 18 June, that the funding arrangements had changed and there would be no new contracts but merely extensions, resulting in the council facing a financial crunch very soon.
Minister, how come, when you recently stated in a speech to launch HepLine on 25 March 2003 that you have a strong commitment to hepatitis C issues, you did not have the common courtesy to advise the Hepatitis C Council of changes to funding arrangements more than 12 days before they were due to start? Why aren't you contributing to such an important program?
MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, as Mrs Burke would know, because I pointed it out to her in the debate last night, funding to the Hepatitis C Council is funding made by the Commonwealth under a national initiative. The ACT acts as a receiver of that money and passes it on directly to the Hepatitis C Council.
In relation to the funding for the council, the Commonwealth government, through the Department of Health and Ageing, has advised ACT Health that half of the amount of funding which the council received this year is confirmed for the subsequent year. We have, as a government, through the department of health, advised the Hepatitis C Council of that.
In relation to the other 50 per cent of their funding, the Commonwealth has not confirmed that that funding is yet available. We are not in a position, as you would rightly understand, I hope, to advise the Hepatitis C Council that that funding is available because the Commonwealth hasn't told us that funding is available. Once the Commonwealth does confirm that funding is available, we will obviously inform the Hepatitis C Council.
Those are the facts of the matter. Any attempt to say otherwise is simply wrong and misleading.
MRS BURKE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I thank the minister for the answer. The blame game aside, Minister, how do you expect the Hepatitis C Council to continue providing important services to the community when their funding arrangements are so uncertain? I repeat: why aren't you contributing to such an important program yourself?
MR CORBELL: In relation to the second part of the question about what assistance the ACT government provided, the ACT government has actually provided extensive