Page 588 - Week 02 - Thursday, 17 February 2005

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MR STANHOPE: I am advised by the Chief Executive Officer of ACT Health that the deputy general manager declined on this occasion to approve ambulance bypass because he was not satisfied that other appropriate measures had been taken within emergency by those then responsible for its management. This was in a number of areas, such as the redistribution of workload, the increased deployment of staff and admitting those patients waiting for admission. That is the advice I have been provided with by the Chief Executive Officer of ACT Health, and I stand by it.

MR SESELJA: I ask a supplementary question. Is it acceptable to breach public sector standards and certified agreements relating to breaks in order to avoid ambulance bypass at the Canberra Hospital?

MR STANHOPE: It is never acceptable to breach those standards in that way. There is no suggestion that they have been. I restate what I said before: there is no memorandum to staff. There was essentially confirmation of a direction by a senior officer to a less senior officer in relation to a request he made to institute ambulance bypass. The request was denied. There is a question to which I have no answer and on which I have not been advised, that is: why the recipient of this private email, which was replying to the request he made, would then distribute it. We can ponder that, but I do not have advice on it and I will not speculate further.

This was not a memorandum. This was not a staff circular. This was not a direction to staff. This was a response by the deputy general manager of the Canberra Hospital to an officer who had made a request of him to institute ambulance bypass, and in the context of refusing that request the deputy general manager made certain comments in relation to his decision. One might say that the nature of the refusal of the request was inelegant. Perhaps it was not as well expressed as he might now, in the light of the public glare that has been brought to his personal communication, wish. But one needs to understand it was a personal communication; it was not meant for broad distribution.

Perhaps all of us can plead guilty from time to time in hurried personal communications to expressing ourselves inelegantly, in a way that the message we are seeking to transmit is subject to some ambiguity. Remember, this note was sent a couple of minutes after a telephone call. It was supplementary to a telephone call in which the deputy general manager had explained his position, had explained the reasons for declining the request to bypass and was simply confirming in writing a conversation that had occurred a matter of moments before. Let us not give this overblown status. It is a private letter confirming a telephone conversation. It was not meant for distribution. It should not have been distributed.

Mr Smyth: That makes it better?

MR STANHOPE: It renders the overblown response to some extent most regrettable. This was a personal communication, and it should be viewed in that light.

Treasurer—Dubai visit

MR MULCAHY: My question is directed to the Treasurer. I refer to plans by the Treasurer to visit Dubai with a business delegation. Will the Treasurer inform the

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