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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 November 2007) . . Page.. 3555 ..

Mr Pratt: How much money did you divert to consultancies?

MR CORBELL: Well, you asked the question. If you do not like the answer, that is not my problem. But you asked the question and I am answering the question. The question is: where was the money spent? The money has been spent overwhelmingly on the provision of the TRN radio network, which is now being used operationally by the Rural Fire Service, as well as by the SES, the Fire Brigade and the Ambulance Service.

We have all four services using the one radio network. It is providing an extensive level of coverage across the territory. That is the single largest investment that the territory has made in IT communications in ESA, and I am very pleased to report to the Assembly that we are now having an excellent level of coverage—

Mr Pratt: What about the other 10 TRN towers?

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Pratt!

MR CORBELL: so sufficient, Mr Speaker, that the RFS has determined that it is suitable for their operational purposes. They have now moved from the old VHF technology to the digital radio network and are using that for their day-to-day operations.

Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders—health

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Chief Minister and it relates to Indigenous affairs. Chief Minister, I believe the Stanhope government has an outstanding record in addressing issues of disadvantage amongst Indigenous Canberrans, including in areas like drug rehabilitation and education. I note a recent report by researchers at James Cook and Sydney universities that suggested up to 60 per cent of Indigenous Australians in some areas had cannabis dependency problems. Can the Chief Minister advise the Assembly what steps the government is taking to address such issues in the ACT?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. As we all know, Australians generally enjoy health outcomes that are equal to the best in the world, and the health of Canberrans, in part as a result of the fact that we have the best health system in the world as well as the best Minister for Health, ranks highest of those in all jurisdictions in Australia. But that is a luxury that is not shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, whose health, including here in the ACT, is much poorer than that of other Australians.

While it is fair to say that here in the national capital we are free of some of the endemic issues that face Indigenous people, particularly in remote communities, nevertheless the health status of Aboriginal Canberrans is far less than that of their non-Indigenous neighbours, workmates and classmates. Misuse of alcohol and addiction to drugs within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community are major contributing factors to the lower health outcomes of Indigenous Canberrans.

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