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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3707 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

This determination by you and your federal colleagues to entrench a two-tiered system of health is something to which we think it was legitimate for us to object. As I said yesterday-

Mrs Dunne: Point of order, Mr Speaker. Under standing order 118 (b), this is not relevant to the question. Mr Stanhope is debating the health care agreement not the issue of indigenous children at risk of domestic violence.

MR SPEAKER: I took particular note of what Mr Pratt said and he did refer to what he described as a stunt by ministers. I think the Chief Minister is entitled to defend himself.

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. It was not a stunt. What the Labor leaders did was draw attention to an attitude of the Liberal Party, your Liberal colleagues, to health care in Australia. Our major concern was the reduction of health expenditure in Australia by a billion dollars-one billion dollars less for health as a result of the decisions of the Liberal Party in Australia. We thought this was a legitimate matter on which we might express an opinion or take action.

As I said yesterday, before doing that, the Labor premiers and chief ministers looked at each of the agenda items on the COAG agenda, took a position in relation to each of them, endorsed the actions incorporated in each of the other agenda items, and conveyed that endorsement to the Commonwealth. The fact that Mr Quartermaine, or anybody else, would criticise the Labor members of COAG for the stand we took, in ignorance of the decisions we had taken, justifies the criticisms I made yesterday. They were comments made in ignorance.

MR PRATT: Be that as it may, Chief Minister, as the Minister for Community Affairs, why are you so ignorant of your portfolio that you did not know who the acting chairman of ATSIC is, or how he was elected? Do you have a grip on it there, chief?

MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister, do not be provoked!

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, I have been provoked. I just do not know that it is possible to answer that sort of puerile nonsense. I am not sure it is a question to which I can respond. That is the point I would make. I might say, Mr Speaker-and I will conclude on this-it is not a question I can answer. I just said, by way of introduction to the answer I gave, that I conceded that, in my response yesterday, I had misunderstood.

I actually think that I put it in terms of a confession, Mr Speaker. I think I said, "I confess, Mr Speaker, that I misunderstood what Mr Stefaniak said yesterday."I think that is what I said. I said, "Mr Speaker, I must confess I misunderstood Mr Stefaniak in the comments that he made yesterday in his question."Mr Pratt now stands up and says, "On what basis are you so ignorant of your portfolio responsibilities?"I just confessed that I misunderstood, Mr Pratt!

I left the Assembly yesterday, after that long and tortuous day, thinking, "There have been some pretty bad and crook days in this Assembly in the six years that I have been in it, but there have not been all that many days when I leave this place feeling slightly embarrassed about the performance of members, feeling that the behaviour and the lack

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