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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 2998 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

Mr Speaker, this parliament has close links with the Canberra Times. The paper's founding editor, the late Arthur Shakespeare, was an unabashed advocate of self-government. A number of other members would know that he was very staunch on self-government while a number of people advocated a different view. He was a member of the original ACT Advisory Council from 1945 to 1955, and was chairman in 1952 and 1953. It was understandable, therefore, that he used his position as editor and owner to promote self-government through the paper's editorial columns. When the newspaper was sold, originally to the Fairfax group, a condition of sale was that the paper would continue to advocate the Territory's self-government cause. Times change.

On the subject of change, congratulations also are in order for the new look Canberra Times. In today's economic climate it is encouraging to see a company like Federal Capital Press investing heavily in its future and the future of this Territory with the recent opening of its new $40m colour press. This has brought a noticeable improvement in the quality of the newspaper's appearance. While the late Arthur Shakespeare set the standard 70 years ago, Mr Speaker, those who must be credited with the latest changes are the newspaper's managing director, Ian Meikle, who has made a valuable contribution to the Canberra community in the few years he has been here; the current editor, Mr Jack Waterford, who seems to have been around for as long as I have; and his staff. All have made over many years a significant contribution to their profession and to the Canberra region's communities. Congratulations to the Canberra Times on attaining 70 years - a milestone for the newspaper and the community it serves.

Canberra Hospital : Private Hospital Beds

MR BERRY (5.59): If Mr Hird had read on in the paper he would have found that the train took an hour longer to get to Goulburn in 1926 than it does now, so that was very interesting.

Mr Speaker, I want to raise an issue which was raised during the course of the debate about the accident and emergency ward. I regret that I did not raise this issue, because it puts things at the hospital in another context. I refer to the promise by Mrs Carnell to deliver a cardio-thoracic unit in the ACT. Doctors concerned with that issue report that we run the risk of the hospital being downgraded if we lose high-level surgeons who can provide thoracic surgery. Mr Speaker, the doctor I have had several meetings with over the years and who is a keen advocate of the cardio-thoracic unit remains in the ACT, but I wonder what his future will be. If he goes and we are not able to recruit one, in the absence of a cardio-thoracic unit, our hospital system and our accident and emergency ward will be downgraded.

Mr Speaker, a further matter that I would like to talk about is the private hospital issue which Mrs Carnell waxed lyrical about during question time. Of course, she quoted very selectively from a press release that was placed in the Assembly. This is what Mrs Carnell should have read out: There was no demand for extra private beds, and there is none now. Neither of the private hospitals here wanted extra beds in those days.

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