Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (27 May) . . Page.. 642 ..
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, Cabinet did make the decision - and I thought I had made that clear yesterday - in 1996. The competitive neutrality in the ACT is set out in this document. I know that you have it, because you had it with you yesterday. This document was printed in 1996. It does set out which businesses would be affected, what competitive neutrality is - all of those sorts of things. Mr Speaker, with regard to competition principles, they are set down in the agreement that was signed by Rosemary Follett. There was an agreement. Part of that agreement was having to come up with this document. Mr Speaker, part of that agreement was having a complaints mechanism, which I understand is subclause 3(8). There is also a requirement for regular reports on allegations of non-compliance. I think that all of the information that Ms Tucker needs is already in the document.
MS TUCKER: I have a supplementary question. You did state quite clearly yesterday that Cabinet did not have anything to do with that decision. You can check Hansard if you do not remember it that way. It is not in that document at all. My question still is: Why did you make the decision to apply competitive neutrality to all government businesses, not just significant ones as stated in the competition principles agreement? What assessment of public interest did you carry out before you made that decision to apply it to all businesses, not just significant ones? I would like to see tabled today, by the end of business, any documentation you have to show how you did assess the public interest issue before you made this decision in Cabinet.
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, the basis for making a decision I think you will find in this document. It is somewhat confusing, I have to say, because in some parts of the document it talks about major government businesses and in others it just says "all businesses". So, I think there is some need for having the document a little bit clearer in the way that it talks about it. But I think that it is actually impossible, or very difficult, to determine what is a major business and what is not. I think the view of Cabinet would be that the competitive neutrality principles should be taken into account right across the board in all of the businesses that we look at. It is very hard to decide what is major and what is minor; but I can tell you that the Belconnen pool is major.
MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. As the Minister is no doubt aware, the Government approved the establishment of a new private hospital adjacent to the Canberra Hospital. Can the Minister tell the Assembly whether his attempt to enlist new salaried specialists to the public health system is adversely affected by the position of the new private hospital? Will the Minister inform the Assembly whether or not VMOs will be permitted to do private work in the public hospital where they have refused to sign the agreements currently under negotiation?
MR MOORE: To answer the first part of the question, about the National Capital Private Hospital and advertising for salaried specialists, I would say that we are very pleased with the results that we have from advertising around Australia. It should not come as a surprise, because I imagine that other VMOs in the rest of Australia look at Canberra and say, "I wonder why those guys are getting paid so much over there.