Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 7 June 2017) . . Page.. 1963 ..
What we have here today is a minister who has come in and done most of what Mr Milligan has agreed to, but at the end of this today we will not have a commitment to provide an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residential alcohol and other drug rehabilitation facility. Whatever is now established out of the Ngunnawal bush healing farm will be something less than that. That was, clearly, never the expectation when the matter was raised and initially mooted by the Ngunnawal elders and Jon Stanhope in this place. It was clearly not what was proposed over many years; it was clearly not what was discussed at the interminable estimates inquiries about progress on this matter; and it was clearly not what led to privileges inquiries about issues and legal challenges about issues, both by residents who were nearby neighbours and by members of the health department against other people. There was a clear understanding, and somewhere we have had complete revisionist history.
What is worse is that for some time we have had what is effectively the empty hospital we saw in the Yes Minister episodes all those years ago. We have a building that exceeds specs and exceeded its budget, but is empty and is not providing a much-needed service for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of this city.
MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (11.19), by leave: I thank members for giving me leave. I want to respond to some of the questions. I myself have referred to it as a rehabilitation centre. I think it is important here—I will state it as I did in my speech earlier—that we think of rehabilitation both with a capital R and with a small r. In my reference to the Ngunnawal bush healing farm being a centre for rehabilitation: it is to rehabilitate people from drug and alcohol dependency. There is no revisionism of history. I would like to state that Mrs Dunne’s comments about a Stalinist revisionism of history were unnecessary, another example of overreach. We had had a reasonable discussion about that already. Obviously, as I also stated, many of us were not here.
My objective now is to have this facility open. I acknowledge that it is by no means ideal to have the facility completed while work still continues on the important access road. It is in a very rural setting which is quite a special setting here in the ACT.
There has never been an intention to mislead, but I certainly acknowledge that in some of these discussions, I myself am learning as we go about the different ways people define different terms.
To be very clear, it is my strong understanding that since its outset the Ngunnawal bush healing farm was about healing and a therapeutic contribution, an addition, to complement existing services and facilities in the ACT.
We already have a number of different facilities and services that provide input into a long process of rehabilitating people from drug and alcohol dependency. Whether we specifically refer to it as a rehabilitation centre with a capital R or a place in which part of the rehabilitation from drug and alcohol dependence takes place, in this case it has been clear in my statements that this centre is to add to the existing services. It is