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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 2295..


MR MULCAHY (continuing):

The minister thinks this is funny and she is laughing at my contribution but I have had angry constituents coming back to me who have been discriminated against after taking genuine problems to Labor and Liberal members. Constituents received replies that were designed to offend the member but they offended them. I strongly suggest that the minister rethink her approach.

Deputy Chief Minister—responses to representations

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo-Minister for Health, Minister for Disability and Community Services and Minister for Women) (6.27): I need to defend myself after Mr Mulcahy's attack. I was laughing because every time Mr Mulcahy speaks he cannot resist patronising me. Younger women must irk him because more often than not his comments to me are extremely patronising.

I note the points raised earlier by Mr Mulcahy. I read the letter of 29 June and apologise to him for not having responded to it. I thought I had. I listened to the arguments he put forward today. I have responded to every letter that I have received from Mr Mulcahy and I have offered him a briefing, but he has not taken up one of my offers. I know he is a busy man but he has not taken up one offer of a briefing to address issues that he has written about. Sometimes he repeatedly addresses a number of issues that are difficult to respond to in a letter.

His letters are usually couched in the following terms: "Dear Ms Gallagher, my constituent has raised an issue of concern about the funding of health services in the ACT. Please tell me what the government is doing to address this."This government provides $751 million in funding to the health system. What sort of letter would encompass all Mr Mulcahy's concerns?

Mr Mulcahy: It is the concern of constituents that I want you to respond to.

MS GALLAGHER: That is right. Mr Mulcahy writes to me on behalf of constituents.

Mr Mulcahy: Everyone else can do it.

MS GALLAGHER: I presume Mr Mulcahy wants the information that is being sought, which is why I offer him a briefing.

Mr Mulcahy: No, it is the constituent. The constituent is raising it.

MS GALLAGHER: It is generous of ministers to offer briefings in the way I have been offering them but to this point Mr Mulcahy has not taken up one of my offers.

Mr Mulcahy: You are the only one who takes that approach.

MS GALLAGHER: His letters are couched in the following terms: "Dear Ms Gallagher, I am concerned about funding to public schools. Please advise me on this issue."What about funding to public schools? His letters are general to the point that it is difficult to respond to them. I take the correspondence that I receive extremely seriously and I try to address every issue that is raised. However, when I get a letter that states, "I


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