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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 139 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

system, particularly in the public education system, but also in the non-government school system. That is why we have committed to an inquiry into needs in the education system in the ACT and, as I indicated in my earlier answer, I intend to proceed with the implementation of that inquiry early in the new year.

As for the role of government, which Mr Hargreaves asked me about in his question, this government and I actually believe that the government has a significant role in maintaining and enhancing our public education system. Far from cutting out the government middleman, it is absolutely imperative that government play a strong, proactive role in addressing issues of need and in addressing the inequities that exist between different parts of our community.

I would encourage Mr Pratt to look at the different schools in the ACT and the different issues they face, because those issues very much relate to where schools are located and the circumstances faced by the parents and families who live in those areas. These are the issues that we should be focusing on, and they require developing a strong, proactive role for government, not taking government out of the equation.

Canberra Hospital

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Health, Mr Stanhope. Minister, yesterday in question time, as well as in your press release of 4 October, you claimed that you would increase funding for the Canberra Hospital by $8.7 million. However, your own election costing promise clearly shows that you will cut this funding back by $2.7 million in the third year-that is, from July 2003.

Do you acknowledge the substantial increases in hospital funding achieved by the previous government, and do you also acknowledge that your 2003 funding cut will be the first time that an ACT government will ever have reduced annual public funding for the hospital? Can you explain why you are planning this reduction and how you expect the hospital to cope with it?

MR STANHOPE: Members will recall that yesterday Mr Smyth asked whether the $6 million we promised in the election campaign, and subsequently, is the same $6 million we provided. The answer to that is yes, and I think it is relevant that I give some examples of the promises and commitments that the government has now made to the Canberra Hospital.

Firstly, as Mr Smyth has just indicated, the amount we are providing is greater in the first two years and then continues at $6 million thereafter. That is precisely the position that we put forward in the election campaign. This is because the former government belatedly realised that it left a shortfall in funding for the hospital; so we have had to pick that up as well. The government did realise that; the $2.7 million commitment it made in that last supplementary statement indicated that.

This government is committed to maintaining, improving and providing resources to secure a high-quality hospital system in the ACT. I am able to confirm-and this was revealed in the second appropriation bill presented by my colleague yesterday-that we are proceeding with our commitment to provide $6 million in additional recurrent funding of the public hospital system for various projects and pressures.

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