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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2753 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

provision of public services for those people who want public services and for those people who cannot afford anything different. But we do not want a situation where the public system is driven down to be the welfare system, and that seems to be the aim that the conservatives amongst us have in relation to their undying commitment to the market providing services.

I think the Minister for Health and Community Care has a bit of work to do on his image in relation to health. I note, Minister, that you did express regret about your comments concerning the lung stapling issue. That was an unfortunate incident which created a lot of disquiet amongst people who were in receipt of those services. It would also create a lot of disquiet amongst older people, who could be forgiven for forming the view that expensive surgery for episodes of illness might well not occur because of the acuity of the particular illness. That is the impression that it gave me. It is the impression that it gave a lot of people who rang my office. It was an unfortunate comment which should not have been made. It was careless, and not the sort of statement that we should expect from a Health Minister because it just frightens people.

We discussed the hepatitis C issue and the committee generally wondered why, given the experience that we had with HIV, a similar turn of events, there is not sufficient corporate memory within the health system to remember the mistakes of the past. My impression is that that has to do with the turnover of senior staff and the loss of corporate memory. If there had been some stability at the senior levels, I am sure that there would have been somebody there who would have remembered the difficulties faced in the past. It is an issue of concern and an appropriate one for this committee to deal with.

My colleagues are also concerned about the future of the ACT Hospice. In our first report we made it clear that we thought that it was a forgotten casualty of the Acton-Kingston land deal, one which is still causing a great deal of pain in the ACT community. I will not go any further in relation to the coroner's inquiry into the matter. The last recommendation of the committee was that we should not move the hospice unless there was full compensation from the Commonwealth. We were all happy with its staying on that site for as long as it wants to stay there, but there is a lack of certainty, it seems, about the Commonwealth Government's position and the contingency plans certainly are not in place. I would hate to see a situation where, at the end of the day, we are forced to put the hospice in a hospital setting because no contingency plans were made. I am rather concerned that that might be where we are headed, unless there can be some accommodation from the Commonwealth. This is a matter of concern which the Government does not seem to be dealing with well.

Mr Speaker, another issue of concern which I will touch on briefly is the issue of legal aid funding, which has been soaked up by the implosion inquiry. We think the Government ought to have made some special provision for that.

MR HIRD (10.57): Mr Speaker, in speaking to the dissenting report and the report in general, I would like to draw the parliament's attention to something I consider to be unparliamentary, that is, the attitude adopted by some members of the committee during the inquiry into the 1997-98 budget reports, as represented in the committee's report. If members want to push their own barrow, Mr Speaker, the place to do it is on the floor of this parliament, not by exceeding their brief as members of a select committee.

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