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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 3 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 807 ..

Mr Berry: No. On a point of order: That was my question. Lest there be confusion about this, I will read it again. Does the failure to achieve the VMO savings mean that projects such as the cardio-thoracic surgery unit will not go ahead as promised? That was what I asked.

MR SPEAKER: We may end up with a very cryptic answer, but I suppose that that is up to the Chief Minister.

MRS CARNELL: Mr Berry made two points. He talked about increased throughput, which I was addressing. It is certainly true that this Government is committed to a cardio-thoracic unit at Woden Valley Hospital. Planning is in place. With the current budget situation, it certainly will not be happening in the next couple of months; otherwise, the situation would become substantially worse. But we always did plan it for late in 1996. I am hopeful that that can be achieved, but obviously the budget situation is fairly tight.

MR BERRY: Can this Assembly take it that the promised cardio-thoracic surgery unit is not guaranteed?

MRS CARNELL: That was not what I said at all. I said that the plans for a cardio-thoracic surgery unit are continuing. It is something that this Government is committed to. Obviously, we will have to take into account budgetary pressures, but there is an absolute commitment to have a cardio-thoracic surgery unit at Woden Valley Hospital.

Bank Charges

MS TUCKER: My question is directed to Mr Humphries as Minister for Consumer Affairs. I have given the Minister notice of this question. It has been brought to my attention that ACT customers of at least one Canberra bank are paying New South Wales State government charges on their accounts if they open them over the phone. The specific case that I refer to is that of a customer who sought to attach a cheque account to an existing ACT St George Keycard account, and the cheque account was opened over the phone on a 008 number. It was not until the customer checked his bank statement some months later that he found in the fine print that he had been charged a New South Wales State government bank tax and that this tax had been regularly removed from his bank account. Can the Minister inform the Assembly whether he believes that it is appropriate for this sort of practice to occur? Are there any steps that he can take to change the practice? It is not a political question; it is seeking information, basically, for a change.

MR HUMPHRIES: I do thank Ms Tucker for giving me advance notice of this question, although I do notice that she has actually issued a press release in which she says that ACT bank customers are being ripped off by the New South Wales State Government. With respect, I would have thought she should have awaited my answer before she actually made that decision. It may not be the case that they are being ripped off at all. I accept that one has to take one's points when one can get them.

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