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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 2438 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

all the people of Canberra. We need to go through this in a rigorous, measured, methodical way. Let us identify the range of sites that might be available. Let us make a commitment to people who are dying. Ninety per cent of the people who die in the hospice die of cancer. Many of them are very young. This is not an old people's home. Let us do it rigorously and let us be open about what we are doing.

I understand that assessments were made on the basis that the site had to be big enough to cater also for potential expansion into a 60-bed aged persons complex. I think that is a nonsense proposal, and I would like the Government to be open about those sorts of secret initiatives so that we can deal openly and clearly with the issue here. We want a site for a 17- to 20-bed stand-alone hospice in a pre-eminent site. We want a rigorous, controlled, methodical, professional assessment of all the options. We want the Government to deal with the Hospice and Palliative Care Society, the main representatives of the consumers in this issues, namely, dying people, so that we get and maintain what we currently have.

That is what we want to do here. We want to maintain what we have - the best facility in Australia, staffed by the best staff in Australia, managed by a group without peer in the management of hospice facilities. I do not think the Government is delivering that. Mr Moore moved yesterday, in almost a knee-jerk way, to add a couple of sites to the equation, when the report had already been prepared, delivered and paid for. The report has already been completed, delivered and paid for, yet we now have two more blocks.

Let us be rigorous about this. Let us do it properly. Let us make sure that we do not downgrade what we currently have. Let us not take a backward step in relation to the care of the terminally ill. As a parliament, we owe no greater obligation than to look after that group of people.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (5.55): Mr Speaker, I suppose I am going to constantly stand here and say, "Damned if you do, damned if you don't". This motion of Mr Stanhope's is appalling. It should be rejected out of hand because it is just pure politics. When we began this issue of the hospice, we had dealt with the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth had made its decision, and I went to Mr Stanhope and I said, "I am happy to consult with you. I am happy to work with you". I presented him with the full range of options that were available to us and the process that was going on. Within a very short while - I think within 24 hours - Mr Stanhope was out with a press release bagging me for going for the cheapest option, when I had explained to him very carefully that the cheapest option was to put a hospice in a spare ward at the Canberra Hospital. Just nonsense.

Then he comes in here and he misleads you by telling you that I have not been consulting. Perhaps I should choose my words a bit more carefully. I withdraw "misleads". He is not absolutely accurate in the way he presents the motion and his arguments. The first couple of points I do not care about because they are just politics. Subparagraph (c) of the motion talks about the failure of the relocation study undertaken by ACT Health and Community Care to involve the community in assessment of appropriate sites or identify an appropriate range of centrally located sites for assessment. The very reason we have had the centrally located sites is that the community were involved. That is the only reason.

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