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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3607 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

I will get back to you also on the resource implications. The information I have been given is that, rather than an additional load on the community sector, it is more of a sharing load. The youth workers in schools will to be able to share some of the work that may normally have gone out to the community sector through the school counsellors.

Environmental flows

MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Environment, Mr Stanhope. Minister, recently the Council of Australian Governments expressed its concern about the Murray River having its environmental flow reduced to 25 per cent. What are the current environmental flows in the ACT and surrounds for the Cotter and Molonglo rivers?

MR STANHOPE: I will take the question on notice.

MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. It is a bit difficult to ask this, but I will see how I go. Minister, given that you don't know, do you know what the long-term impacts are of reduced environmental flows of the Cotter and Molonglo rivers?

MR STANHOPE: They are not optimal.

COAG meeting

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, my question is also to the Chief Minister. I would imagine he should not have to take this one on notice. Chief Minister, when you walked out of the COAG meeting, there was an item on the agenda relating to abuse of indigenous children. The Age reports that the acting head of ATSIC, Lionel Quartermaine, criticised the walkout by state and territory leaders before COAG addressed this very important issue. I quote from the article. It says:

It would only compound the tragedy of our communities if, yet again, governments became distracted and diverted from taking decisive leadership on issues, which are tearing our communities apart ...

Why did you allow pressure to show solidarity with your Labor mates to distract and divert you from showing decisive leadership at the COAG meeting on this important issue which is tearing indigenous communities apart?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Stefaniak; it is an important issue you raise. Fundamental to the decision or actions taken by members of COAG at that meeting was the Commonwealth's determination to cut the Commonwealth's contribution to health funding in Australia by $1 billion.

There are a whole range of very important issues which come from COAG. There are a whole range of very important issues facing all Australians. One, of course, is the health of all of us, including the health of indigenous Australians. The attitude and actions of the Commonwealth, in taking the steps it has taken in relation to health, are fundamental to the wellbeing of all of us.

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