Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3035..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
In responding to Mr Smyth's question, it is important to note that, at the outset, when premiums really did put on their spurt-their significant rise or quantum leap-the Commonwealth government took the step of underwriting the work by visiting medical officers in Australian public hospitals. That provided some relief. It provided some certainty for specialists here in the ACT. The ACT government was prepared to underwrite the work that they do-at least on public patients in our public hospitals.
As Mr Smyth knows, the federal government really must take the lead in relation to this national problem. Also-putting politics aside-the fact that the Commonwealth took the initial step of securing the situation of all those medical practitioners and specialists who were clients of United Medical Protection was significant.
The Commonwealth has provided that underwriting until the end of the year. The question is whether, between now and the end of the year, the Commonwealth's intervention-in that it has secured all those clients of UMP-will be sufficient.
Whether it will be continued, or whether the Commonwealth will respond positively to the reform measures which I know will be proposed in relation to indemnity insurance by the expert group led by Professor Marcia Neve, and which was established by all Australian health ministers-led by Senator Kay Patterson-I do not know, Mr Smyth, in answer to your specific question.
I do not know the number of ACT specialists who have taken early retirement. I note that the article from which you quoted referred only to national figures. I do not believe they were broken down by jurisdiction.
I do not know whether those figures are available to us. Certainly I am more than happy to find out what the situation is, here in the ACT. No early retirements attributed to the medical indemnity crisis have been drawn to my attention.
In the first instance, Mr Smyth, I will make inquiries to see whether or not those statistics are available to us. I would be more than happy to provide them to the Assembly.
Expenditure Review Committee
MS DUNDAS: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, during the estimates hearings, you informed the Estimates Committee that cabinet would be meeting as the Expenditure Review Committee to discuss the timetable as to which department would be the first to face the razor gang. Has this meeting occurred, and have you worked out the timetable?
MR QUINLAN: We are well on the way to working out the timetable for the Expenditure Review Committee work. I do not think we have accepted the title "razor gang"-or whether we would be putting departments up for razor gangs.
We have already started a sensible program whereby we are looking at various programs which deliver services, to ensure duplication does not occur. That has already been conducted for the indigenous affairs area of Mr Stanhope's portfolio. Initially, the Expenditure Review Committee will be the full cabinet. As I have said, there has already