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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 1527 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

As a result of those concerns, I have taken the point raised with me by Ms Horodny that there needs to be some representation by residents on that process, so that they can be assured, since there is some sensitivity about the subject, that the people who are formulating a scientific view about these matters - that is, the extent of contamination and the cause of the contamination - are not merely doing the Government's bidding but in fact have a real commitment to finding the truth about the matter. As a result, I have acceded to a request from her to add to the group Mr Ravi Nadu, a CSIRO soil scientist from Adelaide who is regarded by the Watson residents association as an expert in the area and was nominated by them as an expert representative, and also Mr Phil O'Brien, who is, I understand, a resident of Watson and possibly one of the affected residents and who was also thought to be a person who would have a contribution to make in assessing the work of that group.

I have not loaded the committee with community representatives as such, because I do not believe that the committee's role is to determine what policies should be pursued in respect of those sites; but I do believe that we need to make sure that the expert assessment of the scientific questions in relation to that site is done entirely above board. If the addition of those two people assists in that process, then I am more than happy to do that.

Hospital Bed Numbers

MS REILLY: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister as Minister for Health. Is it true that in the last 24 hours the Wagga Base Hospital has been contacted and canvassed as an option for the overflow of general beds?

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I am unaware that anything out of the ordinary is currently happening at Woden Valley Hospital. Certainly, the hospital is very busy at this stage, and it is quite normal when the hospital reaches a certain level of occupancy to ensure that if it gets busier or there is an accident we know exactly what we are going to do to send patients elsewhere. I think it is very important - - -

Mr Berry: To Wagga.

MRS CARNELL: Wagga is one of the hospitals that are usually canvassed when we reach a high level of occupancy in our hospital system. Mr Speaker, I think it is very important to understand that the number of beds in our hospital system has not been reduced in any way. In fact, the number of beds in our hospital system has actually increased marginally since we came to office 15 months ago.

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