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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3860 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

and recommended that levy provisions be taken out and put into more appropriate legislation. We believe that the levy is a finance matter and ought to remain where it is. The Government have said on a number of occasions that there is not a specific relationship between the collection of moneys and a particular program, so we do not see the relevancy of the levy in this legislation.

The Opposition is not happy about the Ambulance Service not having its own piece of legislation, because of the uniqueness of that service. Provisions such as this which are essentially tied up with how much it costs to run the service ought to be elsewhere. We do not wish to record our objection to the levy at this point. That can be done at some other stage. We do not want to argue that at this point. We only suggest that it is inappropriately placed in this legislation. We are not seeking to repeal that whole levy system. The levy is currently in the Ambulance Service Levy Act 1990, and we seek to keep it there. This amendment starts that process. The guts of the argument comes up in Division 3 of Part VI, where we talk about the levy itself. I do not believe that a piece of arithmetic ought to be in this Bill.

MS TUCKER (3.58): I have already addressed this matter to some extent, but I would like to pick it up again. I should respond to a few comments from Mr Humphries and Mr Rugendyke, who seemed totally surprised by this amendment by Mr Hargreaves. They do not appear to be aware of the committee report which came out in November of this year. On the committee were Paul Osborne, John Hargreaves, Harold Hird and Trevor Kaine. It was only Mr Hird who did not support the recommendation that the Government introduce separate Ambulance Service legislation.

The report is the reason why the Greens have taken an interest in this issue. Among the key points the committee made were the issues around competition policy which I raised in my speech at the in-principle stage. The committee said:

The committee did not receive a detailed response to these issues from the Government. The Government did, however, advise that the details of the contestability arrangements would be included in regulations to be developed at a later stage.

I made that point, too. The committee report went on:

The committee found that this proposal was not satisfactory. It does not allow the committee to scrutinise this aspect of the legislation before it is presented in the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Humphries put up an argument that that was not appropriate, but that view was obviously not shared by three members of the committee. Paragraph 66 of the report states:

... the committee concluded that the arguments put forward by the Government in favour of incorporating ambulance service legislation into general emergency services legislation were not compelling enough to justify this move.

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