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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1581 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

The budget provides $8.3 million over four years to Calvary Public Hospital to increase access to elective surgery, targeting the areas with the largest waiting lists, including orthopaedics, ophthalmology, general surgery, plastic surgery and ear, nose and throat surgery.

This budget continues Labor's commitment to putting health resources where they are needed the most.

Community safety

Mr Speaker, community safety will never be viewed in the same way again since January 18. This budget reflects the need to address issues in the emergency services area.

Labor has provided $2.1 million in 2003-04 for computer aided dispatch for the Emergency Services Bureau. This system improves call taking and dispatch processes for the delivery of emergency services assets to the community.

The emergency services communications infrastructure will also benefit from this budget with nearly $24 million over four years being provided to significantly upgrade emergency services assets. The upgrade will provide increased radio interoperability, an entirely new radio communications system, portable radio communications, mobile data and automatic vehicle location equipment. This measure builds on work commenced several years ago in preparation for Y2K.

This budget also includes a $1.5 million provision for costs associated with the bushfire coronial inquest.

Funding to the Australian Federal Police-contrary to rumour-also increases by $2 million in this budget, which builds on the significant increase in funding and police numbers incorporated into last year's budget.

Environment and sustainability

The January bushfires inflicted severe damage on our environmental and heritage assets. Almost 81 per cent of reserve land in the ACT was burnt. The government recognises that while we had good insurance coverage for our assets, with regards to the environment, significant further resources will need to be directed towards fire recovery and protection of environment.

For example, threats to water quality from soil erosion in catchment areas, threat of weed infestation following the loss of ground cover, damage to fire trails and the need for re-greening of fire damaged urban areas will need to be urgently addressed.

The first priority for the government, of course, is the clean-up of public land to ensure it is safe for the community. This includes the removal of hazardous materials as well as the ongoing assessment and removal of dangerous trees in high use areas. The budget allocates $750,000 for the Stromlo disposable site, and removal of pines in areas adjacent to Duffy and along the Murrumbidgee River corridor.

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