Page 4216 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005

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MR CORBELL: Again, I do not know whether Mr Seselja understands how capital works happen, but you usually do feasibility, forward design and planning before you make a decision to commit capital works moneys. There is nothing different in this case.

Housing—budget funding

MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the housing minister, Mr Hargreaves. Minister, prior to the last ACT election the Stanhope government promised to inject $30 million into public housing, predominantly for new housing. When you were asked about the status of the promised funding by media outlet ABC, your response, aired on ABC TV on 7 October 2005, was, “That’s a very good question that, deserving of a very good answer.” When asked by the journalist, “You can’t promise?” your response was, “Oh, I’d never promise anything.” Despite your government’s mishandling of the budget, the forecast $91 million deficit and pressure on the fiscal envelope, when will the Stanhope government inject the $30 million into public housing in the ACT?

MR HARGREAVES: There are two points. The first is that the government has not mishandled the budget; the government has done a fantastic job with the budget based on the seven years I have seen. Their government, in the first three years was pathetic. The Stanhope government in the past four years has been brilliant. Mrs Burke is trying to come into this chamber and ask, “When are we going to give you your $30 million?” My response is that Mrs Burke can use her intuition and find out herself.

MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. I ask again: minister, when will funding for this critical commitment become available, or are you unable to find the necessary funds? Is this the problem?

MR HARGREAVES: It is highly unusual for governments to pre-empt either government discussions or budgetary outcomes. I do not propose to start the process off now.

Prisons—syringe exchange program

DR FOSKEY: My question is directed to the Minister for Health and regards the possible introduction of a prison-based syringe exchange program in the new ACT prison. Mr Corbell, one of your departmental officers informed a community forum on this issue that you personally supported the introduction of such a program. Could you outline to the Assembly what evidence you have for this position and what you understand the health benefits to be.

MR CORBELL: I start by making very clear the government’s position on this matter: the government has not yet taken a decision on the details of the corrections health plan for the prison. That is work currently being finalised. Obviously, as part of corrections health planning, the issue of disease communication in the prison environment, particularly blood-borne disease and the desirability or otherwise of a needle and syringe program, will need to be considered by the government, and it will be when the corrections health plan is considered by the government as a whole through the cabinet process.

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