Page 1165 - Week 04 - Thursday, 17 March 2005

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MRS BURKE: Thank you, minister, for the response. Given your commitment to this report, would you please indicate your time lines for tabling your response to the report? Why has the government given maternity services such a low priority, as indicated by its failure to respond to this report to date?

MR CORBELL: The government has increased funding for maternity services since coming to office. In particular, we have increased the capacity of the Canberra community midwife program and the Canberra birthing centre at the Canberra Hospital—two excellent facilities.

MRS BURKE: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: relevance. I asked the minister: when will the government finally table its response to this report?

MR SPEAKER: The minister is answering the question.

MR CORBELL: Mrs Burke also asked: where is the government’s commitment to maternity services? I am just showing her how we have demonstrated that commitment.

These are two excellent programs run through the Canberra Hospital. Personally, both of my children were born under those programs. So I am very aware of the excellent service they provide free of charge to people in the Canberra community, providing a level of care that I think is second to none.

The government, as I have indicated, takes these matters seriously and I want to consider fully the recommendations that are outlined in that report because, as I indicated in my previous answer, it does involve, if they are fully adopted, a fairly significant change—in fact, a very significant change—to the way maternity services are delivered in the ACT.

I am conscious also of developments in other jurisdictions, particularly in the Northern Territory, and I have had some discussions with my counterpart in the Northern Territory because he has been looking at similar issues to the ones that the committee raised with this government.

I will put those recommendations to cabinet and then provide a response in this Assembly in due course.

Corrective services—prison project

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Chief Minister. According to the web site that has been established for the ACT prison project, the construction cost of the proposed prison is $110 million. In the introduction to this web site, you are quoted as follows:

My government has fully funded the establishment of an ACT prison with an allocation of $110 million in the 2004-05 budget.

Three days ago, a spokesperson for you was quoted as saying that the estimated cost of $110 million is in March 2003 dollars, and you agreed with that approach yesterday. Chief Minister, if your government agreed in March 2003 that the cost of the ACT prison

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