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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4144..

MR QUINLAN: I am sorry, Mr Speaker. Despite the cheap shots you can get in the media out of this lot-because it looks so easy from the outside-I intend to get value for the ACT taxpayer. That is a concept, I know, that you blokes find very hard to get your heads around-one that you never had your heads around in seven years of government-but I intend to do the right thing, in the long term, by the ACT taxpayer. Thank you for the question.

ACTION bus service-drivers

MR CORNWELL: My question is directed to the minister responsible for transport. In response to question on notice No 1752-I am sure your colleague the Treasurer will be delighted in that number-which you answered yesterday, you advised that ACTION bus drivers had been caught running red lights on several occasions over the past three years. As you would appreciate, thousands of Canberrans, including school children, travel by bus every day. It is inappropriate for drivers to jeopardise the safety of children and their passengers in this way. What action is taken against bus drivers who repeatedly run red lights? Does this include suspension from duty or even dismissal?

MR CORBELL: ACTION bus drivers have run red lights. In those cases, they have been appropriately counselled and, if necessary, disciplinary action has been taken against them. The scope of disciplinary action available to ACTION is the same as that available under the Public Sector Management Act.

MR CORNWELL: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Could the minister provide me with some facts and figures on what action has been taken over the last three years? I do not expect it now; he might like to take it on notice.

MR CORBELL: I do not tend to keep that information on me. I am happy to provide that information. I will elaborate: a range of approaches is adopted in these issues. It depends on the circumstances of each case. It ranges from counselling right up to the more formal disciplinary procedures under the Public Sector Management Act. I undertake to get that information to Mr Cornwell as soon as possible. I place on the record that in no way does the government or ACTION management condone that sort of behaviour. It is entirely inappropriate. Appropriate action is taken. I stress that it is in the extreme minority of cases.

Canberra Hospital-neurosurgery

MR PRATT: My question without notice is to the Minister for Health. Minister, the Canberra Hospital is the tertiary hospital for the ACT and the south-east region of New South Wales. As at the end of June 2004 there were 157 people on the waiting list for neurosurgery in the ACT, and over half of these people were overdue. People requiring non-urgent neurosurgery are waiting for over a year on average.

I understand that your department has sent a letter to people from New South Wales on the neurosurgery waiting list suggesting that they look elsewhere because they would have to wait so long to receive surgery in the ACT. Peter Hughes of the VMO association said on WIN news: "For the government to be talking about not accepting patients from New South Wales shows gross inefficiency."

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