Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 12 February 2008) . . Page.. 57 ..
MRS BURKE: I have a supplementary question. Chief Minister, in light of your response, will you now apologise to the thousands of people who were dreadfully distressed and inconvenienced by the introduction of pay parking at the hospitals?
MR STANHOPE: I should apologise on behalf of the previous government for the absolute botch that they made of the new psychiatric unit, and I should apologise, on behalf of people with mental issues in the ACT, for the fact that, at the time we took government—
Mrs Dunne: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: Mrs Burke asked the Chief Minister specifically about pay parking. The Chief Minister got up and, without taking a breath, moved straight on to a statement about the mental health facility. If he wants to make a statement about the mental health facility, he can ask for leave, and we will give it to him after question time, or he can do it in the adjournment debate. But at the moment the question is about an apology over the botched pay parking.
MR SPEAKER: The Chief Minister was responding in the context of an apology that he should make, he claims, in relation to other matters. I thought his response was pretty clever but I think he should come back to the subject matter.
MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. We have discontinued the car parking arrangements as a result of listening to the community, and from feedback we have received regarding difficulties in its administration. What did the minister do? The minister asked for feedback, she invited it, and she took account of it. She listened. The minister listened to what the community was saying and the minister responded to what the community was saying. In politics and in government, it takes some strength to do that. The minister should be congratulated on listening; she should be congratulated on responding; she should be congratulated on being sensitive to the issues that were raised by users of Canberra Hospital. But if one listens, consults and takes account of the feedback, if one looks the community in the eye and says, “Yes, I listened; I hear what you are saying and I will respond to what you are saying,” that is a matter for condemnation.
I conclude by making the remark I made before: as a result of the major investment that this government is making in health facilities—in the first instance, a new linear accelerator; in the second instance, a brand new, purpose built psychiatric facility to replace the one which the Liberals built and which has been condemned by everyone, and a new forensic mental health facility—and because we are utilising a car park, there is a domino effect. Because we are building a mental health precinct and the available space requires that it be built on a car park, we are building a multistorey car park to cover the space that will otherwise be occupied by new mental health facilities.
That is the sequence of events and decisions at the Canberra Hospital. Yes, it was unpopular. Yes, in its implementation it was difficult to administer. Yes, we did ask for feedback. Yes, we did respond to the feedback. Yes, we did change the arrangements. And, yes, we have a vision for healthcare delivery in Canberra which involves, and will involve over the next decade, the complete reconfiguring of Canberra Hospital and an enhancement of Calvary Hospital. Essentially, at the end of the day, in 10 years time, the Canberra Hospital will have been completely rebuilt to