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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3034..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Pleasingly, in releasing the report of this inquiry, the ABA announced that it proposed to impose an additional condition on licence holders to broadcast a minimum amount of matters of local significance. At first reading, it seemed as if the ABA's proposal might see commercial television stations in Canberra required to restore news services. However, my department has now had a limited opportunity to assess the report of inquiry, and I am advised that this might not be the case.

I do not know whether any other members have attempted to read this report, but it is ambiguous. I have yet to speak to anybody who has read the report who really understands exactly what it is saying. It is a classic case of ambiguity and tortured reading. My department thinks the initial impression-that commercial television stations in Canberra might be required to restore news services-is probably not the case, and that is a matter of great regret. I reiterate that the report is written in such a way as to hide or disguise that fact-to the extent that even experienced policy officers within the Chief Minister's Department are not entirely sure that that is what it says. However, we think that is what it says.

Certainly the new licence condition would reward broadcasters for local news services-but they would not be mandatory. We think that is saying that there should be new licence conditions and that those new licence conditions would reward broadcasters for local news services. In the government's view, that is the deficiency in the ABA's proposed new licence condition.

The government will respond to the ABA's invitation for submissions on its recommendations to argue that case and certainly to argue that it be just a little clearer in its expression and in any further reports it might release.

MR SPEAKER: Before I proceed with the next question without notice, I would like to acknowledge the presence in the chamber of a former MLA, Mr Rugendyke.

Surgeons-resignations

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, I refer to an article in the Canberra Times of 26 August 2002, concerning the outcome of a Royal Australasian College of Surgeons survey on medical indemnity insurance. The survey found that 6 per cent of surgeons had already taken early retirement, as a result of the medical indemnity insurance crisis, and that 60 per cent are considering early retirement.

Will the minister advise the Assembly how many surgeons in the ACT have retired in the past six months, and how this compares with the same period last year? Is this trend impacting on hospital waiting lists and waiting times, as the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons is claiming?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mr Smyth for the question. This certainly is, as we are all aware and as debate in this place has revealed, one of the most pressing issues facing health systems around Australia-the crisis in the provision of medical indemnity insurance, particularly for specialists and in relation to a couple of specialties. The specialties most significantly affected are obstetrics and neurology. Some other specialties are also significantly impacted by the extreme rise in premiums.


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