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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (4 August) . . Page.. 3414..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

We should not rule out PPPs in respect of things such as light rail, but we need to be careful about it. Referring to whole of life budgetary implications, the costs of publicly owned projects such as a prison are carried by the taxpayer, whereas the costs of user-pay projects such as toll roads and rail services are paid by the users of that infrastructure.

Concern has been expressed about the loss from major work arenas of expertise from the public sector to the private sector, which has resulted in the draining of expertise from the administration of particularly complex contracts. I refer members to the papers that were presented by Mr Cave, Professor Hodge and Mr Russell Walker, Assistant Auditor-General in Victoria, who put forward different perspectives relating to PPPs. Mr Cave described Victoria's experience over the past 10 years-it has about 40 PPPs-and said that he is in favour of PPPs.

Professor Hodge provided a detached academic view and challenged the premises and promises of PPPs. Not unexpectedly, Mr Walker provided the best advice that could be provided by an auditor, that is, to tread carefully. I am sure that the secretary of the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment can arrange to send members a copy of those papers if they are interested. I thank members for their input to this debate.

Motion agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 12.29 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Ambulance service

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, the Acting Minister for Health. I understand that on a number of occasions the ACT ambulance service has called on the use of ambulances from Queanbeyan and Yass to transport patients within the ACT. This is due to the fact that ambulances from the ACT are tied up for hours outside hospitals because our hospitals are choc-a-bloc with patients and cannot handle any more. This is another indicator of the incredible stress that Labor's mismanagement is putting our hospital system under. How many times has the ACT ambulance service had to request ambulances from Queanbeyan and Yass, and why is this necessary?

MR WOOD: It is necessary because, as Mr Smyth says, the emergency department is incredibly busy. It is usually busy. I said yesterday that it is often very busy and sometimes it reaches capacity. On those occasions, because of the processes in place between the ambulance service and the emergency department-and sometimes it takes a while for the ambulance to move on-it is necessary to call on other services. I cannot answer the detail of the question. I know it happens. As to the number of times, if the member gives me a few days, I will get back to him with that information.

MR SMYTH: I ask a supplementary question. What is the government doing to alleviate this stress on the hospitals, particularly the emergency rooms, or will it just become standard practice that ambulances are used as supplementary hospital beds under this government?

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