Solariums, Turtles, Fudge

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Thursday, February 4, 2010 was set to be an excellent day in ACT politics, what with the front page Canberra Times story about the Auditor-General wanting to bypass the Government for funding, not to mention the blue over hospital beds the day before and Labor’s flirtation with Latin Americans.

But instead the morning began with Chief Minister and Minister for Territory and Municipal Services Jon Stanhope making the not very surprising revelation that the planned placement of turtle crossing signs in Gungahlin was inspired by a need to protect local turtles.

“The warning signs will alert motorists to the presence of turtles in the area and remind them to slow down,” Mr Stanhope said. “This is the first time turtle-crossing signs have been used in the ACT.”

The four signs will cost $1000 in total and be installed next month.

Meanwhile, down the hall the Greens were busy annoucing a new Private Members Bill to impose greater safety standards on solariums, pointing to 12 months of Government inaction on the issue.

“While the ACT Government has been waiting for the Ministerial Health Council, the number of solarums being used in the ACT has risen. We are the only jurisdiction that has had a rise in solarium numbers and that is concerning,” Amanda Bresnan said.

So, while Stanhope’s out saving the turtles the Greens are pushing the tan agenda to save us all from skin cancer – the cancer Australia has a monopoly on.

Around lunchtime, the Liberals emerged from their cave, roaring about the Government making things up. The lies were as follows:

– Minister for Children and Young People Joy Burch said the child protection stats used in the 2010 Report on Government Services were two years old. Liberal Vicki Dunne says the figures used were six months old and the most up-to-date available and that Burch was “fudging” the numbers.

– Yesterday, in the health care brawl, Stanhope said the Liberals wanted to cut the numbers of hospital beds. Liberal Jeremy Hanson responded today with a flat out denial, accusing the Government of a “fear and smear campaign” saying:

“While the Canberra Liberals have done the hard work to prepare a detailed, positive strategy for the way forward, Jon Stanhope has responded with nothing but dirty politics that adds nothing to the debate.”

– Liberal MLA Brendan Smyth says Stanhope gave a misleading impression on ABC radio this morning that it is unusual for the Auditor-general’s office to be funded by parliament. The ABC report:

Auditor-General Tu Pham made the request as part of a submission to an Opposition bill that would have the Assembly decide how much funding the agency should get.

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope says that goes against Westminster tradition where the Government sets the budgets and could be unconstitutional.

Smyth says, “To suggest this would ‘undermine the Westminster System’ is completely untrue, given the home of the Westminster system, the United Kingdom, as well as NZ, both have their parliaments set the budget for the Auditor-General.”

Another day, another debacle. At least the turtles stand a chance now.

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