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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (22 September) . . Page.. 2030 ..

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hird): Mr Minister, address your remarks through the Chair, please.

MR MOORE: I will save Mr Stanhope the time by reminding him that I also said that if Michael Lee was the Minister for Health then I would hope that you would pursue him and use your pooled resources, et cetera to get that outcome. What I am telling you is exactly the same. Dr Wooldridge has promised that we can put together - - -

Mr Stanhope: There is no funding. He will have a look at it if he gets re-elected.

MR MOORE: No, he will do it. He has promised that he will do it. Funds from those three sources will be put together and applied to one program for the rehabilitation of young people. It is good news, Mr Stanhope. I am amazed that you are not celebrating. I would have thought that you would be happy. You have raised this as a matter of public importance. You were kind enough to say to me last night that you would do this, so I was able to prepare a careful response rather than just dealing with this issue off the top of my head, although it is an issue that I could perhaps speak on for some time without any notes.

The treatment grants funding program was also intended to provide the ACT with $500,000 over four financial years to establish and operate the non-government facilities for the treatment of illicit drug problems. That is the treatment area that we are talking about here. In June 1998, Mr Stanhope, I wrote to the Commonwealth Minister for Health stating that the original application was clearly insufficient to meet any of the gaps in alcohol and other drug services in the ACT and would fail to meet operational costs, let alone establishment costs. First of all I raised it at the ministerial council on the drug strategy. That must have been in early May. Then in June I wrote to him again. I also raised this matter when I spoke to Dr Wooldridge at our July meeting.

In August Dr Wooldridge indicated his willingness to consider combining the first and second instalments of the treatment grants program. The first instalment related to funding for new services and the second was to relate to improvements to existing services. Under this proposed arrangement an annual amount of $187,500, up from $125,000, would be made available for four years commencing in the 1998-99 financial year for the establishment of a new treatment program. In other words, that is $750,000 in total. We still have to look at it year by year. We also have to look at the long term. I did not think it was a good enough improvement over the previous offer. Dr Wooldridge also emphasised that the proposed arrangements would require a clear commitment from the ACT Government. We also indicated in the process that we would be prepared to look at the facility and provide the Watson Hostel as an appropriate location and come to an appropriate agreement to ensure that we manage this particular treatment in the best possible way.

The proposed youth rehabilitation facility that we are talking about would, of course, be very resource intensive. It would require 24-hour staff support. It would be difficult to cut back significantly on costings that were outlined in the proposal without compromising the effectiveness of the proposed service. We would all recognise that a youth residential facility of the type proposed, whilst it is needed, would be expensive.

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