Page 2060 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 21 June 2005
services and health portfolios. We then talk about the report content and presentation from both departments.
Mr Speaker, this inquiry was conducted late in the cycle and I am sure that Mrs Burke will speak further on this because it was an issue of concern to her. I acknowledge that we got under way quite late with these hearings. Unfortunately, we had the election in October last year—not that that was an unfortunate thing, certainly not for those of us who got elected. However, the report itself got tangled up as a result of that time frame.
We also had unusual circumstances this year in that we had a very early Easter break in March. We also had a couple of public holidays—we had the Canberra Day public holiday. As a result of that and the fact that cabinet was conducting budget deliberations at the time, I suppose the availability of both ministers was restricted. I do not believe that there was any conspiracy with regard to that. It was just a matter of the ministers not being able to make themselves available at the times we had hoped for because they were appearing before other committees. That meant that we were the last committee to have public hearings.
Also, there was a bit of blurring between the coming year’s annual reports, which will be presented in a few months and on which I believe departments are working even as we speak, and the budget estimates process. There certainly is a bit of blurring every year whether or not an election, an early Easter and all those other things I talked about happen. So it was unfortunate and we have commented on that. We have asked that the government consider in future election years looking at ways to alleviate this particular issue.
Mr Speaker, apart from that, I have nothing else to say about the report. However, I would like to particularly thank Ms Trish Carling, who has been the acting secretary of the Standing Committee on Health and Disability since the beginning of this year. Trish has been a wonderful person to work with and I am quite sure that both my colleagues on the committee will agree with that. This was her first report for the committee. It will also be her last report in this place because she is leaving us in a bit over a week’s time to go back to her ongoing job up on the hill where she will be looking at some particular fungus or some terrible agricultural problem.
Ms Porter: Something to do with citrus, I think.
MS MacDONALD: Citrus canker is calling Ms Carling. So thank you very much from all of us, Trish. Mr Speaker and members, I commend the report.
MR SPEAKER: Before I call Mrs Burke, I welcome, 85, I am told, students from Gold Creek school, year 4.
MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (11.41): I thank the chair for her comments regarding the report. It was a fairly painless task to put this report together. However, members should note that I did make comments that were accepted and which appear in the report at paragraphs 1.15 and 1.16 under “Conduct of Inquiry”. I think the chair has succinctly and forthrightly mentioned my concerns regarding what were unfortunate circumstances perhaps, given that on 7 December 2004, 2003-04 annual reports were presented in the Assembly and referred to the standing committee. On 1 February 2005 the committee