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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 833


Mr CUNNINGHAM(12.19 a.m.) —I have to rise to defend the Government and Government members in this situation. The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher) has come into this House tonight and read from a submission which the Victorian Bush Nursing Association put out in June or July. There is one clear message tonight-

Opposition members interjecting-


Mr DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Millar) —Order! The honourable member for McMillan will resume his seat. I suggest to honourable members that this is hardly a laudable way to start a new day. It would be in our best interests for honourable members to address themselves more seriously to the matter and refrain from interjecting .


Mr CUNNINGHAM —I do not want to take a great deal of time, but I want to say that my first experience in Parliament was as a member of the Opposition. I learnt very quickly in opposition that if I was to be a responsible member of Parliament and to serve my electorate, if I received a submission from an organisation as far back as July, one of the first things I should do with it was to take it to the appropriate Minister and see that he was made aware of the issues. It is quite clear tonight that members of the Opposition have had this submission but have not taken a sensible approach towards it. As the Deputy Chairman has said, they have allowed this debate to go into the very early hours of the morning before even bothering to read from this submission to the Committee or to the Minister for Health (Dr Blewett). If we are going to talk about serving our constituencies and the private hospitals within them, I suggest that members of the present Opposition have a good lesson to learn. They are not in government. They should learn how to use their position in opposition . They should take the facts on behalf of their constituents-


Mr Newman —Mr Chairman, I take a point of order. I think the honourable member should be brought to heel and should be made to speak to the clauses at issue. We really do not need a lecture on how to conduct ourselves in opposition.


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Millar) —Order! The honourable member for McMillan was persuading me that he was about to get to the point that he wished to make. I call the honourable member for McMillan.


Mr CUNNINGHAM —The point I am making is that we have had presented to us tonight and read into the Hansard record parts of a submission put forward by the Victorian Bush Nursing Association in relation to this legislation. I suggest to the Opposition that, as responsible members of the Parliament, that they have left it a little late for the constituents. Members of the Government have already done the work about which Opposition members have been talking tonight. If members of the Opposition cannot do their own work and discuss this matter with their constituents I suggest-


Mr Groom —Mr Deputy Chairman, the honourable member is not making comments that are relevant to the clauses before this Committee. He is making excuses. I suggest that the Chair should sit him down.


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —The honourable member will resume his seat. The honourable member for McMillan is spending too much time in a character analysis of Opposition members. I suggest that he come more particularly to the matter before the Committee.


Mr CUNNINGHAM —In conclusion, I have been in constant touch with the bush nursing hospitals in my electorate in relation to this legislation. I said earlier that the first intimation I had that there was any difficulty in relation to this legislation was when a Press release was put out last Monday, 5 September, by Mr Foyster, the Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Bush Nursing Association. In my contact with the hospital committees and the people in my electorate I have not found the alarm shown by the chief executive officer . My contact with the Minister has clearly indicated that the clauses in this legislation are not of great concern to those people and those hospitals. The Minister will reply to the debate tonight. I am sure that he will deal with the approach taken by the Opposition, in particular the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Fisher) who just read from paragraphs 8.10, 8.11, 8.12 and 8.13 of the Bush Nursing Association submission. He did not put very much of his own work into the speech. I suggest that the Opposition has very little to hang its hat on.