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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 168 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

There was a dispute between the states and territories and the Commonwealth. We agreed on an independent arbiter. The independent arbiter came out with a figure; the Commonwealth disagreed with it so they did not pay the money. As a result, indexation has not kept pace with real health costs and that must be addressed. At the moment, because of the Commonwealth's unwillingness to properly index the increasing costs, all the states and territories, including the ACT, are shouldering more of a cost in public health services than we are paid to provide. That is just one other issue which needs to be addressed.

The final issue I would like to raise today is the issue of the private health insurance rebate. It has been shown to be a monumental failure in public policy-$2.2 billion worth of public money to not shift anyone out of the public hospital system into the private hospital system. What a complete and absolute failure of public policy and waste of money! In the ACT, which has one of the highest rates of private health insurance in the country, we have seen no significant difference in the number of private patients having operations and treatment in private hospitals compared to public hospitals.

On those grounds alone, it is time for the Commonwealth to revisit that scheme and to give the same sorts of increases in funding for public hospitals-at least 7 to 8 per cent-that they have been prepared to give in terms of increases in premiums for private health insurance companies.

Design advisory service

MS TUCKER: My question is for Mr Corbell as Minister for Planning. I refer you to your design advisory service established for bushfire victims. It looks a helpful initiative, but your media makes no mention of advising people on how to make buildings more environmentally sustainable yet compatible with fire retardant design? Could you let me know whether or not the design advisory service will encourage, and provide assistance on, design that incorporates more environmentally sensible options such as grey water use and water tanks, which are useful for a fire but also for energy efficiency?

There is some confusion about grey water potential. Some of the documentation from PALM says that there are health issues. That is not a barrier that cannot be overcome. I am interested to know whether or not you can reassure the Assembly that there will be active advice and that people will be assisted to make buildings the best they can be?

MR CORBELL: Yes, the design advisory service will be providing the best possible advice to people on the design issues they need to take account of as they make decisions about rebuilding. The design advisory service is focused on two areas. The first is technical advice-what requirements people must meet under the building code and so on in reconstruction. The second is design advice. That advice is made available through a qualified architect supplied through an initiative between PALM and the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. The architect on duty at the advisory service will be available to give design advice and advice on measures to improve the energy efficiency and water efficiency of dwellings.

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