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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 219 ..


minister got back from leave that would be his highest priority. The discussion paper went out in October, I think. I stand to be corrected but it was at about that time. So the officials thought this was the minister’s highest priority in July, but the minister did not get around to concluding this matter until at least October.

I have not criticised the minister for consulting. I have criticised the minister for his slowness in consulting, and the glacial pace at which this has moved. The minister himself in ministerial statements has admitted that this is a problem. We have had discussions at length about the unavoidable circumstances that led to this. I have never had a satisfactory explanation about what those unavoidable circumstances are, except that, when really pressed, the minister said, “I didn’t have appropriation for it.” We had policy agreement. There was broad policy agreement, it was part of the Labor-Greens agreement and this minister could not get his act together. After the event he then used the excuse that there was no appropriation. It is a poor excuse.

As I said, paragraphs (1) and (3) of Mr Rattenbury’s amendment, which was produced quite late, are broadly acceptable. I would like a reporting date that is earlier than the one proposed by Mr Rattenbury. It is quite clear that Mr Rattenbury does not know what he is going to be reporting on, which is why he has kicked it back. We need to put on the record that this is a minister who does not yet have a fully formed idea about what the office for mental health will look like.

I do take the point that it should not be about what Shane Rattenbury thinks the office for mental health should look like. It is about what is best for the community. The Shane Rattenbury model may be the one that is best for the community but that needs to be tested. It should have been tested in the first half of last year, not in the last half and in the early part of this year, as has been the case, and we should have progressed on this much more than we have.

Paragraph (2) further notes some issues which are important but which do not reflect directly on the office for mental health, and this motion is essentially about the office for mental health. If I were to quibble, I could move that they be deleted because they do not relate to the motion in its original form, but I do not think, at this stage of the day, at 20 past 6, that we want to go down that path.

I am pleased that this motion today has produced some activity from the Minister for Mental Health, and I am pleased that we will get a report, albeit a little later than we first envisaged and that we first hoped for. But there will be a report. This report is about what the office for mental health will look like; it will come down in May and the minister proposes that it will be available and ready to go on 1 July. I hope he is right. As they say in the classics, I would really like to see that.

I thank members for their contributions to the debate today. Although I have quibbles about some of the content of the amendment and the late notice with which it was provided, the Canberra Liberals will generally accept the amendment, noting that in doing so we are pushing back the reporting date by which the Minister for Mental Health will have to report to the Assembly. With that I thank members for their contributions to the debate.


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