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MRS CARNELL: We need to address the problem of making sure that the money that we have is focused in the areas for which we have a responsibility to provide services. The Commonwealth funds us to provide services. We simply cannot afford to spend money in areas that the Commonwealth has a responsibility for. I know that we all care about other areas, the people waiting for surgery, community nursing, mental health, and all of those areas that are our responsibility. We must use the limited resources that we have to fund the things for which we are responsible.
To conclude, Mr Speaker, I think that it is the hypocrisy that is upsetting in this whole debate. I quote from a letter from John Ayling, who was Acting Chief Executive in May 1994. He said that there was an agreement to offset 40 places at Lower Jindalee provided that all 40 places were returned to the community in the 1994-95 approval in principle rounds. This was done with the result of Page. Mr Connolly gave up those 40 beds. He gave them to the non-government sector. He did not tell the residents. He did not tell the staff. He got rid of three CMP positions. He did not replace them. He did not put in anybody to pick up the tab. He allowed services to run down. I do not think they have a right to say anything this morning.
MS TUCKER (11.38): Mr Speaker, the issue of the sale of Jindalee has been a very difficult one. A fact of life of politics is that two sides have two different sets of facts, concerns and ideology. The issue has been an emotional one and has been tangled up with a decision that was made by the previous Government to close Lower Jindalee, which has been implemented very poorly. The main concern of the Greens is social justice and we have tried to weave a middle ground through this issue. The real issue with Jindalee is the wellbeing of our older people and the best way to care for them. We have talked to a number of different groups, and we understand the concerns of the unions; but we do not believe that the sale of Jindalee is going to compromise aged care provision in the ACT. Surely, if it were, the Council on the Ageing and many other community organisations and lobby groups would not have supported this decision. In coming to a position we have listened to everyone. We have not been involved in this place over the last few years; but we have learnt that there have been ongoing problems over a number of years in Jindalee, and this obviously has contributed to the low morale among staff and carers there. The very poor process in dealing with decisions regarding both Lower and Upper Jindalee has contributed to distress and concern.
There are many instances where the Greens would unequivocally say no to any proposal concerning the sale of a government asset. However, the Greens do not see this as a black-and-white privatisation issue. This is because the Commonwealth Government is responsible for funding and standard setting for aged care in Australia. Nursing home management is not a free-for-all, a ruthless market operating to make the greatest profit possible. Nursing homes are highly regulated. Sure, there are problems with their standards, as there would be with any uniform standard or code, and we have heard about some of these problems. As the ACT Government would have to pick up the tab for any individual who is not accepted into a nursing home in the ACT at much greater cost, by placing them into acute care in Woden Valley Hospital, for example, we trust that the Government will always take appropriate action.