Page 577 - Week 02 - Thursday, 17 February 2005

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The deputy general manager’s comments were directed specifically to the admitting officer; they were not directed to and were not intended to be distributed to nursing staff or, indeed, any other member of staff in the emergency department. The admitting officer, during the request for bypass, had advised the deputy general manager that all rostered staff were present on duty.

I think it is relevant, Mr Speaker, to note that, on the day this particular incident occurred, the Canberra Hospital emergency department had 132 attendances and 27 admissions. I am advised that those numbers are very much on a par or, indeed, an average workload for the emergency department. On that basis, the deputy general manager’s decision not to agree to bypass was justified.

MR SMYTH: My supplementary question is: why are hospital staff being forced to cover for the inadequacies of your government’s health policies?

MR STANHOPE: They are not. I have just made the point: a request was made by the admitting officer of his senior officer for approval to go on ambulance bypass. He was advised, in a personal email, that the request was denied. The extent to which this has been blown out of all proportion, described now as a general memorandum to all staff directing them to behave in a certain way, really is an extreme response to the legitimate denial of a request by the deputy general manager to go on bypass—a denial which, in the circumstances and in the context of the workload experienced on that particular day, was certainly justified.

Community safety

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Can the minister inform the Assembly of the ACT government’s new affordable security initiative for both household and car theft protection?

MR HARGREAVES: I thank Mr Gentleman for the question and note his ongoing interest in community safety issues—indeed, his very long history in the security industry.

Lockout is a new and affordable ACT government security initiative for both household and car theft protection. It targets people who can least afford household and car theft protection equipment, that is, those receiving Centrelink carers, disability or age pensions. Lockout provides 400 free car immobilisers to prevent car theft and $100 vouchers for household security items.

An immobiliser has proven to be the single best deterrent to opportunistic motor vehicle theft such as joyriding, which forms the overwhelming majority—around 75 per cent—of car theft in the ACT. Most of the vehicles targeted by thieves are 10 years old or more, as these cars were sold before immobilisers became standard equipment. The people who will receive assistance through lockout are those most likely to own cars more than 10 years of age as a result of their low income level. As such, they are also the ones who can least afford to be victims of crime.

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