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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 September 2006) . . Page.. 2876 ..

The development of the climate change strategy recognises that the science of climate change has improved significantly. In addition to reducing emissions, it will also, importantly, include actions to address adaptation to climate change. In addition, community and media interest in climate change has increased significantly. The film An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore, received much publicity recently. The film is well done and clearly explains the complex science of climate change and the issues surrounding it.

I expect to be in a position to have the draft climate change strategy approved by my government colleagues later this year. I would like to be moving more quickly on it, but I am advised that there is a high expectation among community groups that there will be further consultation. This government is doing particularly well. I particularly thank the Chief Minister for the power of his commitment to climate change strategies.

Hospitals—pay parking

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, the Canberra and Calvary hospitals now have pay parking seven days a week from 6.30 in the morning to nine at night. Visiting hours at Canberra Hospital are between 8 am and 8 pm daily, so you cannot visit a sick friend or relative without paying for parking. In contrast, the hours of pay parking outside this building are between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm. Minister, why is it that you have pay parking at the hospitals on weekends and at night when other parking areas allow you to park free of charge at those times?

MS GALLAGHER: The decision was that that is the time that the hospitals receive high usage of car parks. A lot of people go to hospitals on weekends.

Mr Seselja: It is a revenue raiser.

MS GALLAGHER: Yes, it is a revenue raising issue. The whole idea of pay parking has been to raise revenue for the health system and to manage the car parks. Visits to hospitals occur largely in the evenings and on weekends, and those are the times that visitor car parking needs to be provided. I do not think there is any secret about the motivations for pay parking. There are two reasons. One is to manage demand for car parking at hospitals. The other is to raise money to be reinvested back into the health system. The decisions about the hours of usage of pay parking have been based on the hours at which those car parks are used. They are the times that pay parking has been brought in for.

MR SESELJA: I ask a supplementary question. Minister, why is your department charging people to visit sick relatives on the weekend when they can park in Civic to do their shopping for free?

MS GALLAGHER: I have answered the question. About 75 or 76 per cent of users of the car parks—the figure might be a bit higher—are exempt from paying for parking. We have tried to be extremely compassionate with our arrangements for people who are exhibiting hardship or who need to attend hospital frequently. There is a very compassionate exemption scheme being negotiated. We have done everything we can to address people’s concerns.

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