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It is really interesting to note that, as the unions have decided not to be party to the whole process, Mr Connolly seems to have decided not to be party to the process either. It was very interesting to hear Mr Connolly, on radio this morning, making comments about the consultancy; but, unfortunately, Mr Connolly did not seem to think it was important to turn up at the briefing that he was invited to. So, there we were, giving full briefings on the direction in which we are heading with this consultancy; but, of course, Mr Connolly chose not to turn up. He was happy to go on radio but not happy to turn up. But, further than that, he sent Annette Ellis, one of his staffers, to the press conference. So, he was happy to go to the press conference but not happy to turn up at the briefing. Mind you, I was very happy to have Annette Ellis there, because we all know Annette and respect her; but the shadow Minister involved here was simply not interested in a very important consultancy.
Mr Connolly: Mr Speaker, one would have to claim to be misrepresented when, in question time, a Minister says that failing to accept the dictated timeslot for a propaganda exercise means that I am not interested.
MR KAINE: I wish to ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. I can understand from what the Chief Minister has said why Mr Connolly would be a bit tender on this point. I ask the Chief Minister: If the unions and the Opposition spokesperson on this issue have deliberately chosen to remove themselves from the process, does the Chief Minister see that this in any way limits the capacity of the Government to achieve the objectives that need to be achieved in improving the delivery of health services?
MRS CARNELL: The absolute bottom line of this consultancy is to address the problems that exist in Health; that is, the long waiting lists, the extra costs, the 100 fewer public hospital beds that existed when Mr Connolly was Minister. It is interesting to note, Mr Speaker, that we have also given the unions an undertaking that any changes affecting staffing levels and changes in work practices and conditions of service - and the list goes on - will all be negotiated via the provisions within the enterprise bargaining agreement. So, they have nothing to fear. We believe that it is essential for the unions to be part of this whole process. We would like Mr Connolly to be part of this whole process as well. But it will go ahead, simply because it is essential to health in the ACT that we do something about the 4,600 people waiting for elective surgery in Canberra, that we do something about the more than 50 per cent of those who have been waiting for longer than six months and that we do something about the $26m excess expenditure identified in Mr Connolly's own Andersen report. The people of Canberra will no longer accept a health system with those sorts of statistics.