Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1502 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
I do not think that would have been realised by anybody, except for the Estimates Committee. I think that is an issue that demands urgent attention, having regard to our alleged or professed commitment in respect of black deaths in custody and the need for us to address issues affecting indigenous Australians. Substance abusers going into the Belconnen Remand Centre are forced to go cold turkey. That is a matter that requires urgent attention. I hope that the Minister for Health, Mr Moore, can address that issue without any delay. I think it should be addressed today. I think the issue is that serious. But for the Estimates Committee we would not know about it.
The Estimates Committee has raised some interesting questions about the hospice and the palliative care service. These are issues that should also be addressed. There is no doubt that there has been a serious diminution in services in Canberra for terminally ill people as a result of the restructuring of the after-hours palliative care service. That is irrefutable. It is a fact. It is an issue that should be addressed by the Minister immediately.
We also discovered some interesting information in relation to a whole range of other issues that go to the heart of administration and the expenditure of public moneys. A discussion with the Legal Aid Commission highlighted deficiencies in relation to the provision of legal aid, particularly to children requiring representation in family law matters. The debacle with the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, the problems with ACTION, the terrible problems that this Government has created for families in Canberra as a result of its charges on vehicles - all these issues go to the heart of administration and the expenditure of moneys. These are the issues that the Estimates Committee is meant to look at. That is what the Estimates Committee exists for. The absolutely spurious claims made by the Government and others about this process indicate the extent to which the Government has been embarrassed by its deficiencies in these areas.
MR WOOD (5.17): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I heard the attack. I will not say it qualifies as a concerted attack by the Government on the processes of the Estimates Committee. The Chief Minister and others who followed in train have claimed that we did not talk about the budget; that we did not go into facts and figures. I have been here in this Assembly now for over nine years, and that is nine estimates committees that I have been involved in, some as a full-time, continuous member of the committee. I have been in the Minister's chair on a number of occasions at three or four of those estimates committees.
Mr Stefaniak: A very experienced chap.
MR WOOD: I have not served as chair of the committee, Mr Stefaniak, but I have sat in the Minister's chair.
Mr Stefaniak: Maybe next time.
MR WOOD: Next time? I am glad you concede that I will be in the Minister's chair. The Chief Minister is talking nonsense here. I can remember sitting in the Minister's chair when the now Chief Minister asked exactly the same sorts of questions that we asked on this occasion. Her shadow Ministers - now they are Ministers - did the same.