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Friday, 20 February 1987
Page: 381

Senator JESSOP —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware of the criticism levelled at the Australian Capital Territory by the Secretary of the Hospital Employees Federation, Mr Hedley Rowe, on Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio yesterday? Is it true, as Mr Rowe alleged, that there is insufficient money available to maintain properly the mortuaries in the Australian Capital Territory? Is it also true that the lack of funds is due to the increase in bureaucrats employed by the Authority since Dr Blewett reorganised it? Can the Minister verify, as Mr Rowe further alleged, that these bureaucrats are refurnishing their offices with new and expensive furniture and are obtaining new air conditioned cars, and that such expenses are depriving the Authority of funds to maintain medical services? Can the Minister say whether the staff of the Australian Capital Territory Health Authority, since being reorganised by Dr Blewett, is twice the size of the staff of the South Australian Health Commission? Why do a quarter of a million residents of the Australian Capital Territory need an authority twice the size of a body servicing one and a quarter million residents in South Australia? Finally, why is it that, with all this extra staff, the authority is unable to expedite the processing of new contracts for doctors required to service the various hospitals in the Australian Capital Territory?

Senator TATE —I have to disappoint Senator Jessop. Looking at my brief for the second time this week I see that it includes material on the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, diabetes, drug abuse and food. However, there is nothing under `mortuary'. I just am not in a position to answer the question. I do not underestimate the seriousness of what the honourable senator asked. However, I will have to refer all elements of the question to the Minister.