Questions Day 2 - Wednesday 12 August 1998
Parliamentary Record 8
Questions for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
QUESTIONS - Wednesday 12 August 1998 rather than have anyone and everyone getting up to try to belittle me. The question on the closure of the cafeteria at Royal Darwin Hospital was timely. That cafeteria has been closed since I became Minister for Health, which occurred 2 years ago. It was closed because it was underperforming. It was not being used by staff. In fact, they were using the Darwin Private Hospital cafeteria, which they found to be a better facility. One of the arguments the staff put was that the cost of a 3-course meal at S3.50 was unsatisfactory. To provide that meal at a cost of $3.50 required an expensive subsidy from Territory taxpayers. Another argument relating to the closure of that cafeteria was that some young doctors complained that meals were not available on weekends and after 6 pm. In response to that, and after negotiations with the general manager, the Red Cross kiosk agreed to extend its trading hours. It has done that for some time now and remains open to 8 pm on weekdays and from 11 am to 6 pm at weekends. The young doctors have informed the general manager that this is satisfactory. The Red Cross kiosk reports that its extended hours are not commercially viable because people continue to use the Darwin Private Hospital cafeteria. However, it has been agreed to retain the kiosk as an act of good faith. The staff cafeteria is open 24 hours a day with coffee, tea and microwave facilities. There are no plans to re-open the cafeteria at Royal Darwin Hospital. As I said yesterday, it is a long bow to draw to link the closure to morale problems at Royal Darwin Hospital. As to this current memo, I will have a look at it and, once I have digested it, I will provide an answer to the House. Elizabeth River Bridge Mr LUGG to MINISTER for TRANSPORT and INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT What is the extent of development of the Elizabeth River Bridge and when is it likely to be finished? ANSWER Madam Speaker, there could be no better example than this of a new construction that does not work, that is totally unsatisfactory, and where the road approach network is totally unworkable. This situation arose out of a need to provide that bridge extremely quickly. As honourable members will be aware, 2 years ago, Darwin was cut off. It was impossible to leave Darwin by road because of flooding that occurred at the Elizabeth River crossing. I approached the then federal Minister for Transport and Works, Hon John Sharp, and we received permission to build that bridge immediately. We were informed that the Commonwealth government would pay the Territory later for the work, and I think that has been done. Mr Bailey: It does not matter, sign on the dotted line. Mr COULTER: We did. We needed the bridge. We could no longer tolerate that people could not leave Darwin, caravan people in particular, during the wet season and when cyclone warnings applied. The bridge had to be built - and build it we did. In record time, it went from design to construction. In a little over a year it was opened temporarily to allow people to cross when the river came up again. Eventually it was completed and opened to traffic. However, in the speed of providing that facility a totally unworkable approach network was provided at the bridge. It is our intention to seek funding, by way of substitution from the Treasurer, to enable the duplication to occur between the Amhem Highway past those bridges. We intend to include a converging lane. Ideally, we would like a dual lane through to the Berry Springs tum-off. As an interim measure, we will have a duplication, providing the Treasurer sees fit to sign off on the substitution that is being offered to him by the department. There will be a dual carriageway from the Amhem Highway tum-off to the Elizabeth River bridge. I know both the honourable members for Nelson and Goyder have copped a fair bit of stick over this bridge through the local press and also from their constituents. One cannot blame people. It is a terrible situation, and I hope that we will be able to rectify that very soon. I am concerned that the design, the tenders, and the approvals should occur very quickly. I would hate to think that we might start work on it in November, and an early wet season might set in and people will not be able to cross on the new bridge. This matter is of considerable concern to me. I assure the member for Nelson that we have listened to both himself and the member for Goyder, and we will rectify that fault as quickly as possible by providing an appropriate approach. 287
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