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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (17 April) . . Page.. 976 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

The concerns about these issues are fundamental. It has been an issue that has been broadcast on television throughout this country; Mrs Carnell has been made to look like an idiot in front of the community of the ACT. Our hospital system, sadly, has been made to look like a veterinary system or its alternative, depending on what doctors may think about the issue. There are issues of cross-infection which have to be addressed; there are concerns about whether doctors should be allowed to treat animals or whether that should be exclusively the domain of veterinarians. We have heard all of the argument. Even overseas media have been interested in the issue, and they are all laughing at this place.

Mrs Carnell: They would laugh more if we had four inquiries into the same jolly thing.

MR BERRY: None of your inquiries have been - it could be argued - independent. I have no doubt that the community want this matter treated seriously and separately. They have seen before the way that the club in the system works, and they are not going to be satisfied by an outcome which is conducted by the club. This has to be an independent inquiry into the professional standards at our public hospital. Mrs Carnell keeps raving about the fraud investigation unit and the police. They can get on with their job quite separately from an independent inquiry. That could extend to a criminal matter which would not be in the area of concern by the inquiry that I propose. Stop rabbiting on about it.

Mr Humphries: On a point of order, Mr Speaker - - -

MR BERRY: Is there something else you do not understand, Gary?

Mr Humphries: No, not at all, Wayne. I understand this motion; that is one thing. I must say that I am a bit concerned, Mr Speaker, by the inference in Mr Berry's comments about the independence of ACT public servants, particularly ACT Australian Federal Police. I would think there is some real inference in what Mr Berry is saying that these people are the playthings of the Government and will accept direction from the Government. The police and others conducting fraud investigations do so with a statutory level of independence. I would ask Mr Berry to withdraw any inference that the police are not independent of the Government in matters such as this.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Berry, if there is any inference that the police are not independent, I would suggest that you withdraw it.

MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, I am not required to withdraw that in terms of the standing orders. I am quite able to make those accusations, but I have not.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR BERRY: It was a silly point of order from Mr Humphries; just about as silly as his last one.

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