Page 2994 - Week 07 - Thursday, 30 June 2011

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In the lead-up to the 2008 election, you promised a secure mental health facility. In your 2011-12 budget this project was cancelled. Is this a reflection of your commitment to election promises?

MS GALLAGHER: As Mr Hanson knows and understands from the estimates hearings, the issues around a secure mental health unit, particularly in terms of this year’s budget, were that the work came in just before the budget and the costings for the secure mental health unit had grown to, as I recall, between $30 million and $40 million for a 15-bed facility located on the former Quamby site. The government were not prepared to take a financial decision on that until we had done some further analysis of those costings.

We understand that there is a need for a secure unit. The site that has been identified is at Quamby but there was a difference between the funding allocated and what the costings came in at after the model of care had been determined and some of the preliminary design work had increased that project from about $15 million, that had been originally appropriated, to between $30 million and $40 million. The government, quite rightly, has paused that project while we do some further analysis around demand projections and also the model of care for that service. So we have not broken a promise but we are being rigorous in our analysis for the final decisions that need to be taken.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary, Mr Hanson?

MR HANSON: Given that it was meant to be delivered by now, when will you deliver on your promise to build a secure mental health facility?

MS GALLAGHER: What the government is doing is working in partnership with the mental health community, who made some very strong representations about not co-locating that facility at the Canberra Hospital site. That was the original decision that was taken, because of some of the economies of scale that could benefit the project between the secure unit and the acute adult mental health in-patient unit, which is almost drawing to conclusion—the construction period.

In response to some concerns from the mental health community around co-locating both of those services, and from other groups within the Canberra Hospital precinct about having the forensic mental health unit there, and around the space that was required to separate and provide reasonable allocation of outdoor space for the adult acute mental health in-patient unit, that was the decision the government took to move it.

Mr Hanson needs to understand that there has been a history to this and the decision making process that has delayed the project. We have then gone and consulted around—

Mr Hanson: You haven’t delivered what you promised.

MS GALLAGHER: We went through a community consultation process about a number of sites—

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