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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4319 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, at 2100 hours most of the people who are most affected by this motion will be asleep and would not, therefore, have the opportunity to recognise just what this wretched and uncaring government is doing to them.

This matter first surfaced in the estimates in July/August when my colleague Mr Smyth discovered that there was talk about-this is a nice a nice euphemism; it reminds me of the "final solution"-"reshaping aged day-care services to increase active rehabilitation". Did you really hear that, Mr Smyth? Dear me. Well, that is where it first surfaced. Further investigation revealed that what that really meant was that a few aged day-care centres were going to close.

But, of course, the matter did not surface until 20 November when I asked a question in this house, and an embarrassed Chief Minister, who is not here tonight to participate in this debate, made what I thought was a very controlled response. He is normally quite feisty when he is answering questions. But he was not too feisty on this matter, and I am not surprised because he had to admit that this closure was being done by the Minister for Health, or as I called him at the time, the minister for stealth.

This closure was to occur after the Christmas/New Year break. Some of us who have been here for some time are well aware that this is the period when governments do their worst. After the Christmas/New Year break everybody is down at the coast relaxing, enjoying themselves. The Canberra Times shows beach photographs and that type of thing, and there is not much opportunity for real news. This is the time when governments like to impose change.

Fortunately, as a result of exposure by Mr Smyth and the issuing of a couple of media releases, which I must admit were not covered by the media, various people picked up this move. There was uproar in the community because various leaders in this community and carers had not been consulted about the ultimate result. They had been consulted originally-and I will come to that in a moment-about this review, but they had not been consulted about its outcome. Let me quote what has been said by some of the relevant groups. The Council on the Ageing said:

I don't know how much the government is saving but they are creating a lot of angst in the community.

ACT Carers said:

For people with dementia, routine is very important for their stability and life in general and therefore reflected on the carer's life.

And perhaps most poignant of all, a man who is a carer to his wife who has dementia said:

Nobody spoke to me and I don't know of anybody they have spoken to.

So much for this caring Labor government.

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