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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 592 ..


: Mr Speaker, that was a broad-ranging supplementary question. The Government has made it quite clear that it will never say "never" on the sale of any assets. It is never in a position to do that. Let us look at the things Mr Hargreaves has asked about. Schools are Mr Stefaniak's responsibility; hospitals are Mr Moore's responsibility; other parts of the infrastructure are my responsibility. Mr Speaker, the Government will never say "never" on this issue, simply because these issues would have to go through Cabinet, and I do not have that approval.

In terms of Mr Shaw and this supposed secret consultancy, I have already offered to find out, and I will. In regard to the issue of St Clare's and St Edmund's, as I have said previously in this place, at the start of each school year we assess the numbers and we make adjustments. The traffic measures are being put in place. Sometimes the answer is as simple as putting up "no parking" or "bus stop" signs; but we will go further. There are signs that will go up that will show the students where to go for the different buses, to facilitate their getting on and off the bus. There are currently some signs up that are perhaps a bit misleading. They will be removed. What is more, we will have further meetings with the school next week to continue the process.

Methadone Program

MR RUGENDYKE: My question is to the Chief Minister as Acting Health Minister. Chief Minister, last week it was brought to my attention that the waiting time to gain access to the methadone program had blown out to at least five weeks. Yesterday I had a call from a constituent who has been waiting for four weeks and has just been advised that it will be at least another two weeks before he can gain access to the program. Could you please advise the Assembly how long we can expect the waiting time to be at five and six weeks and what is being done to reduce that waiting time?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, it is always good to have sensible questions in this place. When we came to government, I think there were 350 places in the methadone program. In the last few days, there were 506 places, quite a significant increase over the term of our government, Mr Speaker. But there is no doubt that the waiting time at this particular moment is longer than we believe is appropriate. We believe that the appropriate medical benchmark is probably in the two to three weeks period, Mr Speaker. There should be, I believe anyway, at least a short waiting time to discourage people from coming in and out of the program. We want to encourage people to stay on the methadone program, not to leave it and then to come back on it at some stage when it may - - -

Mr Humphries: A lifestyle choice.

MS CARNELL: Yes. We want it to be an appropriate treatment program. So, some waiting period is appropriate, I think, from a medical perspective and also from a social perspective; but five weeks is too long. I think I announced a couple of days ago that we would extend the number of places in our methadone program to get back to a more appropriate waiting period of two to three weeks, Mr Speaker.

Mr Berry: In the public one or the private one - the free one or the expensive one?

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