Page 5197 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 18 November 2009

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The society would also like to continue as occupants at Clare Holland House. This has been raised with the Little Company of Mary. The Little Company of Mary have agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Palliative Care Society to assure them that they will have space at Clare Holland House for their activities and that the current arrangements as they exist will continue.

In addition, one of the issues that have come up through the community consultation is euthanasia. As I expressed at these meetings, it is currently a criminal offence to aid or assist suicide under the ACT criminal laws. There is actually a law that prevents the ACT from legislating in this area. Euthanasia is probably something that does not sit very easily with the provision of palliative care at all. Appropriate care and treatment options which are determined from a clinical point of view, which occur every day—indeed today and every other day of the year—will continue. The Little Company of Mary have given an assurance that their current way of delivering the service will not change.

There was concern around whether there were enough palliative care beds for the ACT and surrounding region. There will be some small growth in this area. There are some additional issues, which I do not have time to go into, around staff, which I am also working to address. We have sought to address all the issues as they have been raised.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary question?

MR HANSON: Minister, as a result of your discussions with the Palliative Care Society, do they now support the sale of Clare Holland House—yes or no?

Ms GALLAGHER: I can determine how I answer that question; it does not have to be a yes or no answer. I think all members in this place, if they have paid any attention to the debate, would understand that the Palliative Care Society do not support the sale of the hospice. Indeed, when these discussions started and the known issues were raised, there were some additional issues around not changing the name of Clare Holland House and not allowing beds to be used for private patients at Clare Holland House. When all of those issues were addressed, we had correspondence from the then acting chair of the Palliative Care Society that gave a commitment to the government or an undertaking to the government that if we were able to address those issues, they would look favourably on the proposal.

Obviously, as an organisation, they have changed their views on that. They have changed their minds, as we are all entitled to do. At this point in time, they are not supportive of the sale as it is outlined in the proposal. But what I am working on is addressing all the concerns they have raised as a society and all the concerns that have been raised with me by staff—and there have been a few of those—in order to ensure that if this does go ahead, we can address the concerns as they have been raised to everybody’s satisfaction. I still have some hope that we will be able to do that. That would be a better outcome, I think, than my ignoring the concerns or not working to address the concerns and just keeping moving along.

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