Page 165 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Labor also said its estimates for two other projects—a new, six-bed adolescent centre and 15-bed secure unit—might change because operational expenses needed to be confirmed.
The secure mental health unit was originally promised by Labor in 2005. Why is it that after seven years you are still unable to estimate how much this promise will cost ACT taxpayers?
MS GALLAGHER: As the member will be aware, there have been a number of changes to the project over that time. The first one was the decision not to locate it on the grounds of Canberra Hospital. We then went through a process which was the original decision that I inherited when I became health minister. That decision was overturned. We then went and identified a site. The former site of Quamby was identified as the most appropriate site. We went through a process there. It developed through that that the cost of that project on that site would be in the order of $30-odd million, which was a lot more than the money that had been appropriated for it when it was co-located. So that money was returned to the budget whilst further work was being done. That work has been done, including a review from Health Infrastructure New South Wales, who have looked at the price that has been costed on that project and have said that, in their view, it is about 20 per cent higher than they would have estimated if it was to be built in New South Wales. We have also had an expert review done of the model of care and the constraints of operating—
Mr Hanson interjecting—
MS GALLAGHER: Madam Speaker, through you, the constraints of providing that service in such a small facility on that location and the government is—
Mr Hanson interjecting—
MS GALLAGHER: Through you, Madam Speaker, as you have instructed us to follow, so I will not respond to Mr Hanson’s repeated interjections—
MADAM SPEAKER: Quite right.
MS GALLAGHER: Through you, I have explained the reasons for that project. It is going to be a very difficult project to deliver. I am acutely aware of the advice that the government has been given around the difficulty in staffing and the nature of the service that is provided in forensic mental health. It is a very, very particular group of clients and when you have a small number of beds like that it puts constraints on the service. I am aware of that. As I said, we have not finalised our thinking on this project. We do need a secure unit.
Mr Coe interjecting—
MS GALLAGHER: The project is going to be built for the long term. I am not going to build something that will not suit the needs of the forensic mental health clients in this city. I will not rush it and build something that will be incapable of being staffed