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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2759 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (11.17): I rise briefly to advise the Assembly that, together with Mr Hird, I have dissented from the part of the Estimates Committee report relative to the Canberra Hospital, specifically to the part that indicated that there was some concern amongst members about privatisation. I understood from the evidence that at a time when the intensive care unit was full some patients were looked after - and looked after well, I gather - by the National Capital Private Hospital. I do not know that it is, as some people would say, privatisation by stealth or anything sinister like that. Patients were cared for by a hospital right next door. I certainly did not have a problem with that as the evidence unfolded. I see it as a good thing that there can be that sort of cooperation between the National Capital Private Hospital, which I understand is doing well, and the Canberra Hospital.

I also support the refusal of the Minister for Health and Community Care to rule out the privatisation of the hospital. He has indicated clearly in this place on several occasions that he would not play the loony Left's game of refusing to rule out this or rule out that. Mr Speaker, I have no problem with the way that the Minister for Health has explained and defended his position in refusing to rule out the privatisation of the hospital.

Finally, I too applaud the work that the secretaries of the various committees have done to assist in the assembling of this Estimates Committee report. This is my first Estimates Committee experience. I understand from other experienced members that utilisation of all the secretaries of the committees has been particularly successful. I presume that it will be looked at in the future as an appropriate way of compiling such a comprehensive and difficult report.

MR OSBORNE (11.20): I have been called a lot of things in my time here, Mr Speaker, but I have never been accused of being from the loony Left. It is very hard for Mr Rugendyke to hide his true colours and occasionally the Liberal blood does come out. I will be brief, Mr Speaker. I have to say that I cannot for the life of me understand the indignation and outrage on the part of the Government in relation to this one recommendation. I have had another read through it. Recommendation 6 states:

The committee recommends that the Government remind departmental officers of the need for care and attention to detail in respect of evidence given to committees of the Assembly and remind officers of the gravity of such discrepancies.

I hardly think that that is a scathing recommendation, Mr Speaker. Obviously the issue of the leases and the blocks was a major mistake on the part of the Government. It created a fair amount of debate in this Assembly. I feel for the officer involved because I was as confused as most other people on that. But, as I said, the recommendation hardly is a scathing attack on that person, for whom I have a lot of time and respect. So, I am a little bit confused and a little bit amused at some of the things that have been said today.

I will say, Mr Speaker, that I think that we have a tremendous opportunity in the select committee I chair, which is looking at the Assembly, to have a good look at the estimates process and the process of reviewing the annual reports. I tend to think that, perhaps, we would be better served if the different portfolio committees actually reviewed the

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