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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 17 August 2017) . . Page.. 2922 ..

but we know that we have taken every measure available to us now to ensure that the building is safe. ACT Health have made the decision to remove those panels at the earliest opportunity. We will undertake the necessary assessment and get the necessary technical and engineering advice that we need to make the right decision.

MS LAWDER: Minister, why are the panels being removed if, as you say, they are safe enough to receive a certificate of occupancy?

MS FITZHARRIS: The building remains safe, but, as I have said, we are going to go the extra mile, given that we have learnt more since the Grenfell tragedy in the UK.

Centenary Hospital for Women and Children—aluminium cladding

MR PARTON: My question is to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. Minister, in your ministerial statement today you spoke about emergency procedures and fire drills used in ACT Health buildings, seeking to reassure staff and patients that, in the event of a fire, their safety would be a priority. You also spoke about removing the aluminium composite panels from the front of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. But there does not seem to be an appetite for urgency on this matter. You said:

ACT Health has met with representatives of Commercial Services and Infrastructure … Justice and Community Safety … Fire & Rescue and Access Canberra, as well as internal clinical representatives to discuss the draft report findings, cross agency implications and operational implications for ACT Health.

Minister, having identified the need to remove the panels, instead of more talk and more meetings, why don’t you just use your ministerial power to order their immediate removal?

MS FITZHARRIS: Because that would be irresponsible of me as minister. What I will do as minister is make sure that I identify the issues and am fully briefed by my department.

Where priorities have been assessed and identified, and where they have given advice to me on the appropriate course of action, I have approved them taking that course of action. That course of action has meant that ACT Health has proactively looked at all of its assets. It has identified the Centenary hospital as having five to 10 per cent of its façade in this particular form of panel. They advised me that it cannot be removed immediately without the assessment that is currently underway and that will be completed by the end of September, because it may compromise some other features of the building itself.

MR PARTON: Minister, can you tell me: when did you decide to remove the cladding? What sparked that decision?

MS FITZHARRIS: That was a decision that ACT Health took and they advised me of that. I support that decision that ACT Health took.

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