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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (9 March) . . Page.. 885..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

formal offer was made yesterday. I understand that the Treasurer has agreed to enact a gross payment to allow that to proceed.

MR SMYTH: I have a supplementary question. Minister, why has it taken so long for such a penny pinching and heartless approach to help this woman? Why has it taken six weeks to come to the conclusion of this arrangement?

MR CORBELL: The opposition would do better to question why it is that private health funds do not provide insurance cover for these sorts of products. That is a very legitimate question that needs to be asked, particularly by the Liberal Party, which is spending more than $3 billion federally--

Mr Smyth: I rise on a point of order. The minister is debating the answer, which is not allowed under standing order 118 (b). I did not ask about private health insurance; I asked about his approach and why this was not resolved earlier.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Corbell, come to the point of the question.

MR CORBELL: My point is this: the ACT government has gone out of its way to provide assistance-in this case a $250 per month act of grace payment-because the private health insurance fund has refused to provide cover for this service to one of its premium members, someone who has paid private health insurance for decades and someone who has received no succour from the private health insurer. That is a disgrace, especially when $3 billion worth of taxpayers' money is being spent annually across the country to subsidise people getting into private health insurance.

At the end of the day, it is the ACT taxpayer and the ACT government who are doing the right thing in providing assistance to this individual. We have gone out of our way to provide this assistance and we are very pleased to be providing it because of this patient's unique circumstances. But it is not something for which the blame can be sheeted home to the ACT health system. The ACT health system has done the right thing in providing the support needed by this person-support that her private health insurer has been sadly lacking in providing to date.

Land development

MS DUNDAS: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister for Planning. Minister, as you may be aware, block 13 of section 32 in Belconnen, near the Belconnen markets, is due to be auctioned on 16 March. A sign has been erected on that site stating that the Land Development Agency has sought approval under the significant tree legislation for removal for some large native red gums that are currently on that site. This information is also stated in the auction information booklet. Minister, can you please explain why this approval is being sought, and do you have any concerns about this process?

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, I am not familiar with the details of that site and I will need to provide some further advice to Ms Dundas on that. I will undertake to do so as soon as possible.

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