Page 3963 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 15 Sept 2009

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MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Ms Hunter, for that question. I tried to anticipate the great level of interest that I knew there would be in this significant announcement today, but the one question that I did not take advice on, Ms Hunter, I think was that. Ask me about the grams per kilogram of carbon monoxide being emitted by—

Ms Hunter: Another supplementary.

MR STANHOPE: But you probably know the answer to that. I will have to take the question on notice, Ms Hunter, and provide you with that information.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Coe?

MR COE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, does the abandoning of securing further natural gas buses mean that we will not get the desired economies of scale from that technology?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. No, it does not mean that. It means that we have taken a very conscious decision on the basis of a detailed triple-bottom-line analysis of costs and benefits of diesel vis-a-vis CNG. The costs and the benefits measured across the life of the bus are quite significant. We, in fact, will achieve significant cost-benefits as a result of the decision to move from our previous position of natural gas to diesel. Indeed, the initial cost savings have been estimated as somewhere in the order of $21 million.

When one does a detailed, quite forensic analysis of the environmental, social and economic implications of the decision then, far from not achieving the benefits that we might have achieved as a result of continuing with natural gas, we will achieve the benefits that are now embedded as a result of the conversion to natural gas previously. With the decision now, in the light of cleaner diesel and new engine technology, we will, on advice provided to me, as a result of the decision to convert to diesel with the purchase of these 100 buses, make significant cost savings and, at the same time, not in any significant way change the environmental benefits that previously existed in relation to the purchase of CNG but which now, as a result of changes in technology and changes in fuel composition, have been largely negated.

ACT Health—agency nurses

MS BRESNAN: My question is to the Minister for Health and is in regard to agency nurses. I understand that publicly employed nurses have been told they can no longer use agency nurses as a last resort when filling in a roster, despite this being a requirement of the certified agreement. I also understand that nurses on the ground have had to go higher up the management chain if they need to get approval to call in agency nurses on a shift. Minister, could you advise the Assembly how the department plans to maintain quality of care when publicly employed nurses find themselves short-staffed and it is more difficult for them to call in help from agency nurses?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank the Greens via media release for the forewarning of this question. The preference of ACT Health is to recruit permanent staff to vacancies, and

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