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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 23 September 2010) . . Page.. 4403 ..

whether it be $77 million, which is the book value of the hospital buildings, or another sum which would have had to be determined at a later date. Say we use that $77 million figure. Little Company of Mary do not agree with us. There is a dispute and they have sought their own legal advice on our accounting advice. We will continue discussions around that.

The government’s point of view, and this has been supported by further analysis from the Auditor-General, is that we should proceed on the understanding that a service concession arrangement exists, that we should book Calvary Public Hospital, that we are then able to capitalise investment and that we will work on the, I guess, priority areas for that capital investment for next year’s budget.

The longer term issues for the hospital requirements on the north side of Canberra do need close consideration. We are, as a department, updating our own demographic data, taking into account the new population projections for the ACT, and I do believe that will change some of the thinking around whether or not we are a two-hospital town.

That work is being done, and we are very happy that we will be able to provide a submission to the Assembly. I should say, though, that we are not going to stop making decisions because there is a committee process underway, and I have had that discussion with the Greens and with my colleague on the committee. I am very happy to support an inquiry to a committee but these issues have never been put. I do not think the standing committee on health has done a health inquiry, apart from annual reports. I think they are focused on other areas of their business program. We would have always, I think, supported a referral of Calvary to the committee.

I welcome the expansion of consideration of these issues but I have to say that the government will not stop making decisions about the future hospital needs of the north side of Canberra. We have been working on this for 18 months. We have almost finished our projections data. There will be work that goes to cabinet for consideration before the end of this year and we will need to start making decisions about that. We cannot wait necessarily until March next year, the reporting date.

I was up-front, in my discussions with the Greens, and Mary Porter, who sits as a lay member on the committee, that I am very happy for this inquiry to be underway. I will participate fully in it. The government will provide submissions and information to it. In the meantime, we will need to make decisions about the hospital services on the north side of Canberra. We cannot wait just because the referral to the committee occurs 18 months later than it should have.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (10.52): As always when following Ms Gallagher, it is difficult to know where to start. But I will find a way. We might start where Ms Gallagher finished off—that this is 18 months too late. This is from a minister who has opposed scrutiny of this deal from day one.

Let us be clear on this. What is really important about this motion today is that it will start to hopefully shed some light on a process where there should have been a lot of light shed a long time ago. The reason that there was not light shed on it was that this minister was not up-front with the community.

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