Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2986 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
I will be quick. I know that other people still have to speak and we have to finish at 7. Basically, to summarise quickly-and I cannot go into detail but I have had a full briefing on this-the numbers increased because Calvary brought in an economic consultant who said it was not economically viable. They had to have an internal rate of return that required an increase in the number of beds in the facility as well as the number of independent living units.
Where this poses a problem is that the original assertion of the number of beds and ILUs changed significantly over the period, but there was a promise that the community would be involved the whole way along in the discussion, and then there was a recognition that there were environmentally sensitive areas. The process was prolonged because they had to continue to work in good faith, to their credit, with the community because they kept changing and shifting the goal posts. That needs to be understood.
I am concerned that the government made this direct grant without going to other aged care providers, who I believe are able to do this without such a high internal rate of return. It is very important that you give a number of aged care providers the opportunity to say how many ILUs they would need. That did not happen, and I am critical of the government for that reason. That is not to say that the facility cannot be there, and there are obviously important synergies involved in having it near Calvary, but the point is that the government did not offer other aged care providers the opportunity to say how they could do it. That is all I was raising.
I think it is extremely unfair to say that I do not care about old people. I have spent a lot of time with aged people here. I have spent time myself going to dementia facilities out of Canberra and seeing how painful it is for people who are not able to be with their loved ones. I think we need to be a bit careful when we say, "Greens care about trees not older people."It is nonsense. Mrs Dunne said it too, but I am beginning to expect comments like that from her.
The other interesting issues are related to where we could be having other aged care facilities in Canberra. I know the Belconnen community is very unhappy with what the government is doing now, putting an aged care facility on the lake shore. It conflicts with absolutely agreed principles about keeping that foreshore free, but of course it is linked once again with money-making private development. There is another site that they could go to, the Belconnen golf course. That has the community's support in Belconnen, but of course the government will not support that. I am interested to know why and I am critical of the government on that as well.
I am not suggesting that I think that the government is handling this appropriately, but I am sorry, I cannot support Mr Cornwell's motion as he put it, for the reasons I am outlining. I will say again, though, that I commend him for bringing it up in this place. I hope that we do actually see the government respond to the important issues that have been raised here tonight.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hargreaves ) adjourned to the next sitting.