Page 2323 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 16 June 2009

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the street this will make absolutely not one scrap of difference. If someone goes to the Calvary emergency department today or in six months or a year’s time and the ACT government owns and operates it, it will not make one bit of difference to them in terms of the provision of health care services.

I understand the need to consult widely around the provision of health care services. I think the issues around ownership and governance can be discussed, as they have been discussed now and in this place, but in business negotiations—and I guess Mr Smyth is the only member of a previous government on the opposition side—between government and a third party it is incredibly difficult to work out at what point you have some community consultation process: just say we reach agreement with the Little Company of Mary on a price and then we say, “Now we are going out to consult with the community about whether or not they think that is the right idea.” At some point in time we have to make the decision.

We have made some initial decisions about negotiations to continue. Of course, it has to go through the government processes, quite rightly, before any further decisions are taken and then it will come to this place. I think then, as leaders of the community, it is up to the Assembly to have that discussion. Hopefully they will come to support a view that the two public hospitals in the ACT should be owned and operated by the ACT community and exist as an asset on our balance sheet, particularly when we are talking about the level of investment that the ACT community is going to have to make over the next few years to make that hospital the hospital it needs to be for the future.

Self-government act—reform

MS PORTER: My question is to the Attorney-General. Can you please advise the Assembly of the government’s position on the reform of the self-government act, including the government’s response to the views expressed by Senator Humphries in the media yesterday?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for the question. The issue of reform of the self-government act is an important one for the community and for this Assembly. The ACT government remains committed to pursuing review of the self-government act to ensure that a range of its antidemocratic provisions is addressed. What is of particular interest, however, is the views that have been expressed by members of the community in relation to this debate. In particular, I welcome the comments made by the former Liberal Chief Minister and now senator, Senator Humphries, when he said, in relation to whether or not further powers should be granted to the Assembly, “There is no evidence whatsoever that the ACT parliament is likely to randomly, wantonly or indiscriminately abuse the privilege given to it by the ACT community.”

I endorse Senator Humphries’s comments. It is a considered approach and an approach of someone who obviously has extensive experience and understanding of the constitutional arrangements within which we operate. What is particularly disappointing, however, is the less than fulsome comments of the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition said in relation to the same matter: “Just imagine the situation where Jon Stanhope had unfettered power. I think most Canberrans would be very concerned about that.”

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