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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 2947 ..

Proposed Private Hospital

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, through you, I have a question for the Chief Minister and Minister for Health and Community Care. Chief Minister, I am sure that all of the media releases put out by the Opposition Leader designate, Mr Berry, are indelibly imprinted on your memory and, in particular, you will remember one dated 25 July this year in which he said, in connection with private hospitals:

There is no shortage of private hospital beds in the ACT ...

Further down, in connection with events of six years ago, he said:

There was no demand for extra private beds then and there is none now.

Chief Minister, in light of those comments, would you inform the Assembly as to whether or not there has been any expression of interest in recent times in the development of a new private hospital in the ACT?

MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Kaine, for the question. It allows me to continue what we started last week and make Mr Berry look like a fool. I am sorry; I withdraw that. We will make Mr Berry eat his words. Mr Speaker, members will be aware that the ACT Government has sought expressions of interest to develop a new private hospital and a new private psychiatric clinic in the Territory. Advertisements were placed in major daily newspapers throughout Australia on 10 August. The proposal provides for a private hospital to be developed within or adjacent to the Canberra Hospital and will ensure that it makes the best use of co-location with a tertiary teaching hospital. Mr Speaker, this is the same model that has been successfully developed in Sydney - Labor Government Sydney - and in Adelaide. Importantly, the proposal has been designed to ensure that it will not incur any net cost to the taxpayer. I will say that again, Mr Speaker. It will not incur any net cost to the taxpayer.

Why has this Government gone down this path? The only official statistics on private health insurance that we have show that the ACT figures are included in the figures for New South Wales. That means that about a third of the population would have private health insurance. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the ACT has much higher levels of private health insurance than New South Wales and other States. Currently, many people who have made arrangements for their own health cover cannot take full advantage of the potential benefits from private health insurance in the ACT. Obviously, if, like those opposite, they choose to take private health insurance - - -

Mr Berry: What benefits? A bill? What a great benefit that is!

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