Page 2967 - Week 08 - Thursday, 25 June 2009

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Hospitals—Calvary Public Hospital

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, will you give the Assembly a cast-iron guarantee—an iron-cast guarantee, I should say—that you will not finalise any deal for the purchase of Calvary hospital without bringing it back before the Assembly? If not, why not?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Hanson for the question. The government will continue the negotiations with the Little Company of Mary on the potential purchase of the Calvary Public Hospital. The purchase of that hospital will be subject, if the negotiations get to this point, to an appropriation by this territory. Obviously, if the appropriation does not go ahead, the deal does not go ahead. We can only finalise it to a certain point anyway. The Assembly will have its own view on that. We have been clear, and I think the Little Company of Mary understand the constraints in terms of finalising the deal as it may end up.

We are very hopeful that we will be able to finalise this deal. I guess the challenge to the opposition is that, by the time the appropriation legislation comes to the Assembly, you will have to indicate one way or another whether you actually support this and finally make a stand on a significant policy issue for the people of the ACT. We look forward to you indicating your position on this in the weeks or months to come.

Recycling—batteries and light bulbs

MS LE COUTEUR: My question is to the Minister for Territory and Municipal Services. Minister, batteries and fluorescent light globes are toxic items which can be recycled but mostly they end up in landfill. What is the ACT government doing to make sure that these items can be easily recycled and, given the very low percentage of batteries and light bulbs that are actually recycled, is it adequate to only provide drop-off points at Mitchell and Mugga Lane landfills?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Ms Le Couteur, for the question. Certainly I think the community has been sensitised to a significant number of issues in relation to waste and some of the intractable waste products, such as batteries. It is an issue that I think all communities are grappling with and we see some of the responses that have been made here in the territory, and indeed around Australia and the world, in relation to mobile phones, for the same reason—that products that in the past have been seen as simply disposable now represent quite significant waste disposal issues for us.

There is an issue, I think, for the community in the location of waste or waste drop-off places. We have contracted a number of dumps, essentially, or landfill areas in the ACT. They have contracted to just the two, at Mitchell and at Hume. Those decisions were taken in the context of seeking to restrain the areas. I well remember, of course, the Belconnen, the Hackett-Ainslie dumps, and in different times I have actually been a client of those.

In the context of the smaller items that you mention, Ms Le Couteur—batteries, some IT equipment, mobile phones and some of those other products—you raise a

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