Page 3304 - Week 10 - Friday, 26 August 2005

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level of delay between when an order may be sought and when it may be heard and determined. That has the potential to put people’s lives at risk. This is not a straightforward issue from the government’s perspective; it is a complex issue. It is one that involves balancing a range of rights and responsibilities. But I think it would be negligent of this place and of the government if we were not in a position to make provision for emergency treatment in the very restricted and very selective circumstances which the Attorney-General outlined this morning in his speech in support of the bill.

For that reason, the government believes that we should move to further debate and pass this legislation today. It will be an important provision for emergency mental health care for people whose lives otherwise would be potentially at serious risk; indeed, people who would be in a life-threatening situation which is covered by the provisions of the legislation. The government will not be supporting the proposal by Dr Foskey to refer this matter to the standing committee on health.

These issues have been very well canvassed in the community and I know that all members of this place have paid very close attention to the provisions of this bill. They have spoken widely with people who have strong views, both for and against, and I know also that ACT Health has held a very comprehensive series of briefings for all members who have expressed interest in this legislation so that any issues of detail have been able to be clarified and discussed extensively.

I am disappointed that, if this was the approach Dr Foskey felt was appropriate, it was not raised earlier. Indeed, this is the first I was aware of it. Nevertheless, I think the debate has been comprehensive since this bill was presented, both in the broader community and here within the Assembly and, whilst there is always controversy around the subject, that should not preclude us from making a decision about what we believe is the appropriate way forward in providing emergency care for those whose lives otherwise would be threatened if this type of care were not available. So I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Reference to committee

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (10.00): Pursuant to standing order 174, I move:

That the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Amendment Bill 2005 be referred to the Standing Committee on Health and Disability for inquiry and report.

Despite Mr Corbell’s assurance that the government will not support my motion, I have moved it because I do not believe that belief is good enough, and that is what Mr Corbell invokes here. We may believe we are doing the right thing, but this matter is so important that we need to go to hard evidence. That is why I am seeking to refer it to a venue where that evidence can be sought, listened to, considered and reported upon. Then the Assembly will have the advantage of that evidence in making a decision.

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