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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4318 ..

MR CORBELL: As the Chief Minister says, Peppertree Lodge is not an issue I have direct control over. Perhaps I will put the question in some perspective. First and foremost, Mr Cornwell is saying that there are over 500 beds. Mr Speaker, they are not all actual development applications, as he well knows from the information I provided to him when those figures were first released. They are our best understanding of a mixture of formal development applications and development proposals, which have been discussed and are being progressed with ACT planning and land authorities, and development proposals flagged by existing or new providers but not yet progressed by them.

The actual number of aged care beds that have been approved by the Commonwealth government and are yet to become operational is 145, not the 500 figure quoted by Mr Cornwell. The 145 is made up 103 high care places and 42 low care places. Those are the beds funded by the Commonwealth yet to become operational.

The government is continuing to work very closely with all proponents in progressing applications for the development of new aged care facilities. As the member will be aware, the government has approved grants of land to both the Little Company of Mary at Bruce and Sourthern Cross Homes in Garran. In addition, the government is moving to release a site on the shore of Lake Ginninderra for aged care facilities early next year, within this financial year. The government is considering additional sites at Gordon, Greenway and Nicholls for future release.

The government's processes are moving in an effective and timely way. We will always focus on ways to further improve those, but the government has identified both the demand and possible sites and is moving to expedite them.

MR CORBELL: Minister, why have you failed to open even one aged care bed during your two years in office? Are you holding these back, as a cynical election sweetener for next year?


Paterson's curse

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Environment, Mr Stanhope. Minister, at least 26 horses have died in Canberra as a result of poisoning from Paterson's curse in recent months. As at a couple of weeks ago, the Canberra Veterinary Hospital was performing approximately 80 blood tests on horses per week just to screen for the toxins contained in Paterson's curse. However, the Environment ACT website shows that Paterson's curse has not been declared a pest plant species, despite the fact that it destroys good pasture and is extremely dangerous to horses and other livestock. Minister, why have you failed to declare Paterson's curse a pest species despite the obvious harm to the environment and danger to livestock?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mrs Dunne for the question. It certainly is a very topical issue and a serious issue, the extent to which Paterson's curse has invaded the ACT and, indeed, all areas of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia that have been so significantly impacted by the drought. Certainly, a feature of Paterson's curse-I think it

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