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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 3263 ..

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary, Ms Dundas?

MS DUNDAS: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Considering the many proposals that are currently on the table for future suburbs, do you think it is necessary for those plans to include looking at the development of new schools; or, if not, looking at greater transport options for allowing kids in Dunlop and possibly the new suburbs to fill in the surrounding schools?

MS GALLAGHER: Yes, certainly, I agree with that. In terms of decisions around new suburbs, certainly into that planning goes decisions about space for schools to be built-community facilities space on which schools can be built. Certainly, if I just look at the situation in Gungahlin, where there isn't a college at the moment, ACTION provides a school service from Gungahlin to Copland College where, again, there is capacity to take students from the Gungahlin area.

Yes, there are a range of things that are being done. If there is a problem in Dunlop, I can certainly look at Dunlop in terms of some support for transport. Certainly the transport issue hasn't been raised with me. I know there are concerns coming from people within Dunlop who would like a school, but I just feel we need to move the debate a bit further when we just can't go building schools in suburbs. I think it is an old way of making decisions about building schools, particularly when we have a problem. This was raised in the Connors inquiry. That was the way decisions were made, and now we are left with schools that have very low numbers.

One way of dealing with that is you provide for the space in the new suburbs, but the decision about whether you build a school on that land will be taken in conjunction, I guess, with competing issues in surrounding suburbs.

Mental health care

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. I refer to a report in the Canberra Times of 27 August 2003 about your failure to meet the expectations of the people of Canberra in relation to health care. It reads:

Four beds at Canberra Hospital's psychiatric unit have been closed during 2002-03 because the service experienced difficulties recruiting and retaining staff.

This is commonly known as the "CountryLink excuse". Why are you closing beds in the psychiatric unit, given the high level of demand in the community for high-level mental health care?

MR CORBELL: I am glad the Liberal Party thinks it is a laughing matter-because I do not. It is a very serious issue. Staff shortages affect a number of key service delivery areas at ACT Health, and that is not unique to ACT Health. It is occurring in many jurisdictions around the country, particularly in a number of key health care professions. That is why I am working with state and territory health ministers and with the Commonwealth minister to try and address areas of key work force shortage and ensure that sufficient training places are made available in our tertiary institutions through lobbying the Commonwealth minister so that, at the end of the day, we have training

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