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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (27 May) . . Page.. 634 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

whether or not we will employ a salaried medical specialist over a VMO, we will take into account, first and foremost, what is in the best interests of the patient and, secondly, what is in the best interests of the hospital as a whole. In most cases, that will be to take a salaried medical specialist.

MR STANHOPE: I have a supplementary question. Minister, can you tell us whether you have a savings target in mind in relation to the renegotiation of the VMO contracts? How much money do you expect to save in this year?

MR MOORE: Certainly, Mr Stanhope, we are seeking to save money this year. There was approximately $11m budgeted for VMOs. The figure that we are expecting to be spent is closer to $12m. So, even on VMOs so far, we expect there to be a blow-out in that part of the hospital budget. It is a difficult thing to handle. We are seeking to make significant savings; but, at this stage, I cannot put an exact figure on those savings, other than to say that we are hoping that it will be at least $1m.

ACT Housing Properties - Causeway

MR QUINLAN: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Urban Services in his capacity as the Minister responsible for housing. Members may be aware that, during the last election campaign, I attended - in fact, I sponsored - a public meeting of the residents of the Causeway. These residents expressed a deep concern regarding the future of their houses in that small community, a concern generated out of fear of the impact on their properties of the nearby Kingston foreshore development. Can the Minister advise the Assembly whether ACT Housing has any forward plans in relation to the Causeway itself?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I thank the member for his question. To the best of my knowledge, no, they do not; but I would be more than happy to consult the department and find out specifically the number of houses in the Causeway and what our long-term intentions for them are. I am aware that the Kingston foreshore development is in close proximity to the people of the Causeway, and I am sure that they will be part of the consultation process when that development goes ahead. As to specific management plans for our properties there, I am not aware of anything particular in the future; but I will certainly find out and get back to you as quickly as I can.

MR QUINLAN: I have a supplementary question. On 29 April, ACT Housing actually wrote to at least some of the residents of the Causeway and said:

... ACT Housing presently has no immediate plans to redevelop or dispose of these properties. However ACT Housing is withholding Causeway properties from sale to tenants for the time being.

Can the Minister say why - or discover why - ACT Housing is withholding these properties from sale if there are no plans to redevelop or dispose of them? Will the Minister give his guarantee to the residents of the Causeway that their properties will not be disposed of? In fact, if you are talking to them, I might actually recommend that their fears as to the impact on the Causeway of the proximity of the foreshore development be taken into account as well.

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