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Speaking on Healthcare (Acquisition of Property) Amendment Bill

29 November 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak on behalf of the Greens on the Health Care (Acquisition of Property) Amendment Bill. Under current legislation the government can acquire land for public hospitals, but this bill expands the potential for those acquisition powers to extend to health services in general, especially for new ambulance services.

In the last few years, South Australia has been dealing with a ramping crisis, one that was created by both of the two major parties. We have continually heard stories of people waiting too long for ambulances. We have also heard of people being too scared to call an ambulance for fear of how long it will take. This is simply not good enough in a state like South Australia that has the resources that we have.

We do welcome the government's commitment to build new ambulance stations and so we are supportive of the general principle of this bill. We understand that there is a need to co-locate health services to make it easier for people to access multiple services. We also understand that ambulance services have very specific needs and that these need to be taken into account when selecting new locations.

Minister Picton, I understand, has advised the other place that the SA Ambulance Service needs to be located close to main roadways so as to avoid bottlenecks and to ensure best possible response times. For these reasons, we can see situations where compulsory acquisitions may be required. We have been advised that the usual planning and heritage processes will continue to apply to any properties already compulsorily acquired under this provision. Given the recent example of the use of Parklands for health services, assurances that heritage and planning laws will still apply are very important.

I am aware of the amendments that the opposition has filed. We will certainly consider the debate during the committee stage of the bill, but I flag that the Greens are disinclined to support those simply on the basis that this may narrow the field. We are concerned that this may prevent the potential for acquisitions for mental health services, and we recognise that that is an important issue that requires attention from government. We will certainly engage in the committee stage of the bill and I will be asking some questions of the government in that regard.