Page 707 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 March 2005

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In the last six-month period there was the second highest level of throughput for elective surgery in Canberra. It fell short of the record by about 60 people. That was a significant level of throughput for elective surgery. It is simply a false assertion to say that we are spending more and getting less. It might sound good, but it is wrong. The bottom line is that we had close to record levels of elective surgery activity in the past six months.

It is worth noting that about 36 per cent of the people on the elective surgery waiting list are residents of New South Wales. The government will continue to work with the health services of the surrounding area of New South Wales to have, wherever possible and practical, those New South Wales residents have their surgery undertaken in New South Wales hospitals. But we acknowledge that, as a regional hospital, we will need to accept our share of people who cannot get access to surgery in other locations. That is why, of course, the government will continue to invest in improving access to elective surgery, as it has done to date.

Animal pound

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Urban Services. Minister, the ACT government operates a pound at which various animals are kept. One important community service of the pound is to operate as a dog shelter. In operating as a dog shelter, the pound can also parallel the operations of the RSPCA animal shelter and even some commercial pet shops.

Minister, does the pound, when it is operating as a dog shelter, comply with all relevant legislation such as the Domestic Animals Act, particularly with respect to the provisions applying to desexing?

MR HARGREAVES: I am stunned. Of all the questions that Mr Pratt was going to ask me, I did not think of that tricky one. I confess I did not see that one coming, Mr Pratt. I seriously did not see it coming. I can see, in fact, you have been lurking around the pound, salivating furiously over these desexed dogs. Good on you.

The answer to your question, Mr Pratt, is that, when dogs are actually taken to the pound, firstly we try to determine whether or not they have an owner. We try to trace that owner and give them back. The short answer is: not in the first instance. When dogs are, in fact, available for sale, the answer is yes.

MR PRATT: My supplementary question is: will you make sure that the government’s shelter is complying with this legislation? If it is, is it including all the costs in the price it charges for dogs? Will you ensure that those actions are taken to make sure that that compliance occurs?

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, I will make it my business, this very afternoon, to determine exactly what heinous activities the dog pound is actually up to. I will make sure, to satisfy Mr Pratt, that the pound is, in fact, doing that.

I also have to say that, when Mr Pratt talks about costs and all that sort of thing, I suspect the next time Mr Pratt opens his mouth he is going to be insisting that the Chief Minister savagely increase the price for people who buy dogs—pardon the pun. He will insist

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