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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (23 May) . . Page.. 1750 ..

Medical Evacuation and Rescue Helicopter

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Services)(6.45), in reply: Mr Speaker, very briefly, a report on WIN Television tonight, I understand, quoted a comment by Ms Follett on the rescue helicopter. To paraphrase, she said, "It is about time that Mr Humphries took the people of Canberra into his confidence and told us what is going on with this rescue helicopter service". Mr Speaker, yesterday I answered a fairly full question in this place from Mr Osborne about the rescue helicopter. I explained, I think fairly fully, what was going on with respect to the helicopter, except for one small piece of information, and that is the successful tenderer. I indicated to the Assembly why I was not prepared to divulge that information to the Assembly.

I am therefore quite concerned about the impression created by Ms Follett's statement, "Mr Humphries should take the people of Canberra into his confidence". I assume that it is a reference to my refusal to deliver the name of the successful tenderer. I believe that my decision is entirely justifiable, based on the agreement we have reached with the New South Wales Labor Government that the name of the successful tenderer should not be divulged until both governments are ready to do so. I repeat that the ACT Government is fully prepared and ready to release the name of the tenderer. The New South Wales Government is the party, at this time, not willing to do so.

I think, with respect, Mr Speaker, that to take the advice that Ms Follett has given would have one result, and that is that the New South Wales Government would withdraw over $1m in recurrent funding to the helicopter service to be based in the ACT. It is a great pity that Ms Follett has succumbed to the temptation to make a cheap political point on this. If she is really concerned about this matter, there is a very simple thing she can do. She can get on the telephone, ring Dr Refshauge, and persuade him that the time to release that information is now.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Assembly adjourned at 6.47 pm until Tuesday, 18 June 1996, at 10.30 am

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