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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3158 ..

MR STANHOPE: No, the position that the government has taken on this is one that is designed to ensure long-term sustainable reductions in insurance premiums. That is the view we have taken: it is long term, measured, considered, rigorous and designed to ensure that there is that balance. A balance ensures that there are real reductions in premiums, and ensures that doctors and other medical professionals can continue to operate and provide the service which is so sorely needed by all of us.

It also ensures that people who are injured, people who do suffer damage as a result of negligent or reckless behaviour, are appropriately and justly compensated for the injuries that they suffer. It is a measured, considered, rigorous and sustainable approach and response that the ACT government is providing.

Commonwealth-State/Territory Disability Agreement

MS GALLAGHER: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Mr Wood. Can the minister tell the Assembly what progress has been made in negotiations on the Commonwealth-State/Territory Disability Agreement?

MR WOOD: Thank you. In the week that I will be handing down a very detailed response to the Gallop report, it is appropriate to focus on disability. However, I am sorry to say that there has not been much progress, Ms Gallagher, since Mr Stanhope responded to a question I think in the last sitting period.

Negotiations are not yet concluded on a new agreement. The Commonwealth has agreed to roll over existing funding for a period to the end of October, for further negotiations, so we hope something will be resolved before much longer. We continue to receive funding, including unmet needs funding, at the levels of 2001-2002, and that is a little while ago now.

As the Chief Minister told the Assembly during the last sitting week, a letter has been received from Senator Vanstone formalising an offer of an additional $125 million, to be made available over five years, on the condition that jurisdictions match this fourfold. That $125 million would bring very little to the ACT in each of those years.

Mr Humphries: It is better than nothing, though, isn't it?

MR WOOD: It is better than nothing, but I think we should fight for a little bit of justice in this area, Mr Humphries. A joint response from all states and territories was sent to Senator Vanstone indicating that, while the offer of $125 million was a welcome step, in percentage terms it represented less than half of the Commonwealth's commitment to growth in funding for accommodation and support services under the current agreement.

I want to stress-and I think I will have the support of members over there-that in this case all states and territories are arguing about the level of funding from Amanda Vanstone. This is not really a political issue. I am sure you sat in ministerial meetings in your time in government where the states lined up against the Commonwealth, regardless of the political complexion-I see Mr Humphries nodding-of the states. This is a fairly consistent approach at ministerial meetings.

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