Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 746 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
being negotiated at around $1m to $1.2m as a compensation package. Remember, each case depends on the level of earnings that a person might be able to manage. We expect, even taking into account one or more of those cases, that the compensation is more likely to be between $40,000 and $60,000 and therefore we have budgeted accordingly. But it is an estimate. It may well change.
What we are trying to do is ensure that our citizens who were unfortunate enough to be caught up in the circumstances between 1985 and 1990 have the possibility of sorting the matter out and getting the compensation they are entitled to with the least possible legal wrangling and costs and with the least possible stress; but an outcome that is fair to them and fair to the broader citizens of the ACT as represented by the Government.
MR STANHOPE: I have a supplementary question. Minister, are you able to tell us, in the context of the inquiry that you did institute, whether or not any explanation was given to you by your department as to why neither it nor the Canberra Hospital appears to have taken any action between October 1994 and the time that Mr Humphries was advised of this issue, and was any explanation given as to why neither the Canberra Hospital nor the Department of Health felt it advisable to advise the then Minister of this amazingly serious problem?
MR MOORE: I must say, Mr Stanhope, you are wandering into the questions you have on the notice paper, but I am trying to be as open as I can, as I have been in dealing with these matters all the way along. It is now some six months ago. I am certainly happy to go back, and your questions will take me back anyway to look at those reasons.
My recollection of the events is that when the explanation was given to me and I was taken through it verbally I felt that there would be no point in going back and trying to rake over those coals to get a higher level investigation because the vast majority of people who were involved and knew anything about it had gone. It was not just the Canberra Hospital and the Calvary Hospital. A range of hospitals within the region were involved as well. The Red Cross was involved as well. Therefore it was not worth going back through that process in any more detail than I had already done.
MR BERRY: Mr Speaker, my question too is directed to the Minister for Health and Community Care. Material tabled by the Minister yesterday in relation to the potential infection of Canberra Hospital patients with hepatitis C from contaminated blood showed that seven or six individuals had so far tested positive to the virus. Given that the same material revealed that three people tested from within the period designated for compensation tested negative to the virus, can the Minister explain why his spokesperson told the Canberra Times on 11 March last that the Government was processing claims from about 35 people? Could you explain how we are getting these wild fluctuations?
MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, I do not have the information before me. What I tabled yesterday gave a series of figures. Just over 2,000 people have notified of hepatitis C. There were 157 people that we needed to contact, as I recall. There were also a number