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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (23 March) . . Page.. 710 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

One of the difficult things is to get the bulk numbers up. It is reaching that last 10 per cent that is going to be the most difficult. Members may have seen the spot van around places, the Winnebago van with the spots painted on it. We have been using that mobile van to try to lure people in as part of a coordinated immunisation strategy. This Government is very proud that we have been able to achieve that, while working with the Federal Government to get the best possible outcomes.

When the Health and Community Care Committee gets this information, I do not have that big a problem with them releasing it. We would like it in its context and I think it will enhance the community debate. I do not think we should be frightened of the community debate. Community debate invariably heightens people's interest in and concern about immunisation. If the weight of evidence shows, as I believe it does, that we should immunise, even though on a cost-benefit analysis there are some down sides for a small number of people, let us have the debate, and let the weight of evidence win. Let us convince people that they should make a decision to immunise.

Mr Speaker, I do not think we should be frightened of that information coming out, and I would encourage the Health and Community Care Committee to make public those submissions. Let them put the arguments out. Let people who are interested in population health issues put the arguments as to why we should continue to immunise our children, and the arguments as to why we should increase our immunisation rates, and get the sort of outcome that Mr Osborne referred to, because I think it is an essential element of a healthy society and one that we can, in a mature society, handle extremely well. We should never just put down those arguments. We should listen to them, we should argue the alternatives, and then allow people to make their own decisions. Because the weight of evidence is so strongly in favour of immunisation, I think we can persuade people that it is the right thing to do.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition): I wish to speak for a very short time on this matter, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: You will need leave to speak again.

MR STANHOPE: I seek leave to speak again.

Leave granted.

MR STANHOPE: The Labor Party supports the motion, Mr Speaker, on the basis that these submissions were made at the time on the basis that this would be a public and open inquiry. I think the people of Canberra have an expectation and a right to believe that the submissions will be made public. There are provisions within the standing orders and within the discretion of committees to withhold or to amend submissions if there is some good reason for doing so. Perhaps they are defamatory. Even though they might attract privilege, I think there are grounds on which committees might, from time to time, decide not to release certain submissions or certain information. That capacity will exist in this case. One expects that the committee, upon receipt, will inspect the submissions and ensure that it is appropriate that they be made public.

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