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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 2720 ..

MR CONNOLLY (continuing):

all of the ancillary health services". The Canberra Times editorial, wrong as it was in blaming Paul Osborne, was right when it said that if the doctors go it will not be long before the health centres close, and I think in that point the Canberra Times editorial was dead right.

If the Government is honest in saying, "We are going to keep the community nurses and all the other ancillary health services in these health centres", presumably, if they are going to be there, someone is going to answer the telephone for them, someone is going to make the bookings, there is going to be power and light and all the rest of it. This $600,000 worth of illusory savings is the administrative support costs of running the health centres, providing the administrative support for the doctors, and providing the administrative support for these ancillary health care workers. If Mrs Carnell says that by getting rid of the salaried doctors we are going to scrub all these ancillary support costs, presumably you are either pulling our legs, to be kind, about the fact that there will continue to be allied health professionals working out of the health centres or those allied health professionals will be working out of dark, cold health centres with no telephones and nobody to answer the telephones to make the bookings - if there was a telephone. You have lumped together all these on-costs to get your big sum to try to bamboozle the public that you are somehow creating a saving.

Mr Humphries, now that he is in government, was a bit honest in his speech. He said that we will never know what these savings were going to be, and I think that is right. This has been a very illusory figure, but a figure that would make sense only if you were shutting the health centres and not providing support for ancillary health care workers. If you are going to keep those allied health professionals there, there is absolutely no way they can continue to provide a service to the public if you achieve these extraordinary savings by wiping out all the support staff in the centres. This is a weak and feeble defence. However, as Mrs Carnell has put so much stress on the $600,000 savings, we do want to know the global cost of sacking the nine doctors. How much has been paid out in those redundancies, in defiance of the will of this Assembly?

MR OSBORNE (12.58), in reply: I rise to close the debate. I thank members who have supported me on this issue. I would like to say a couple of things on what Mr Humphries had to say. I was nearly in tears listening to Mr Humphries. You poor man, you are doing it so tough there in government, are you not? Much of your argument, Mr Humphries, centred around cuts that have already been made, whether it be by the Opposition or you, but I think that is irrelevant in this debate.

Mr Humphries: Do you reckon?

MR OSBORNE: I think so. You also said that by moving this censure motion we are debasing the currency. If you think that is an ineffective way of sending a message to you, perhaps I could block some of your upcoming legislation. Would that be more effective, do you think? How would you debase that currency? I certainly do not think I am debasing the currency. I gave a lot of thought to this issue, and I adjourned it yesterday because it is something that has given me a lot to think about. As I said in my initial speech, I do it with much regret. I listened to Mrs Carnell's arguments, and I said earlier that if I had had all this on the table perhaps I would have made a different decision and we would not be going down this path.

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