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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 1982 ..

Sharps Unit - Collection of Hypodermic Syringes

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, through you, I put a question to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, I presume that you have seen a media release put out yesterday by the current Leader of the Opposition and entitled "Sharps Unit told to ignore Civic Youth Centre". The release, in fact, calls on Mrs Carnell to reverse a policy decision, allegedly made by the sharps collection service, not to pick up discarded syringes from the youth centre. Chief Minister, has the Government made any such decision or issued such a directive?

MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Kaine, for that question. Mr Speaker, the Opposition is making a bit of a habit of walking absolutely straight into an ambush. First, it was Mr Berry, the former Health Minister, who, to quote from a song by Peter Gabriel - somebody who, I am sure, many people here would know - does not remember, does not recall, and, in fact, does not remember anything at all. Today, it is the turn of Mr Whitecross, the ersatz Opposition Leader. I have in my hand a media release put out by Mr Whitecross, which is headed "Sharps Unit told to ignore Civic Youth Centre".

Mr De Domenico: Shame! Absolute shame!

MRS CARNELL: That is right. Shame! In his statement, Mr Whitecross shamelessly attacks public servants in the Sharps Unit of the Department of Urban Services, accusing them of refusing to collect discarded syringes that were found at the Civic Youth Centre. Mr Speaker, for the information of Mr Whitecross, the unit has always collected sharps from the centre in the past, and it continues to do so. In fact, it was there today, Mr Whitecross.

Members interjected.

MR SPEAKER: Order! This is an important question.

MRS CARNELL: There are no plans under this Government, and there have never been any plans, to stop this service. Let me say it again for the peanut gallery opposite. Read my lips, Mr Whitecross, if you can from this distance. The Sharps Unit have always collected discarded needles from the youth centre and will continue to do so. Mr Whitecross, did you bother to check your facts? Did you ring the Sharps Unit? Did you ring my office? Did you ring Mr De Domenico's office? Of course not, Mr Speaker.

I am advised that what the Sharps Unit actually wanted to talk to the people at the youth centre about yesterday was setting up procedures to minimise the risks posed by those objects. These arrangements included the possibility of training, Mr Whitecross - training for youth centre staff - in handling sharps and the provision of disposal containers, which would be collected regularly and emptied by the Sharps Unit - - -

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