Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 2 Hansard (24 February) . . Page.. 634..
MS BRESNAN (continuing):
Act. Therefore, the process we should be pursuing should be one that offers the best path of natural justice for all parties involved. People may get direct protection under the Inquiries Act but they will also be forced to give evidence, which will not encourage disclosure, as I have already stated.
The Greens will support the government's proposal for two external reviews to be conducted, the first into matters mostly regarding clinical standards and the second into workplace culture. The AMA have this morning confirmed to all three parties in this place that they wanted the reviews to be external, independent, able to protect any witnesses and able to ensure fairness to those accused of various matters. We think these points are best addressed through the government's proposal. I would note that Dr Foote said on Monday that he was happy with the government's proposal for two external reviews.
As I have already noted, the Greens will support the minister's amendment. I appreciate that the amendment ensures, in paragraph (1)(b), that the key words "bullying and harassment"are included and also, in (1)(c), that broader systemic issues be considered if they are determined to be a contributing factor to any problems that have occurred. The minister will report back to the Assembly on the terms of reference and scope once they are finalised. We believe that it is important to consider if there are broader systemic issues at TCH and that the terms of reference for the review and the scope be made available to members in the Assembly.
Paragraph (3) of the minister's amendment is an important one because we must remember that, while conflict occurs between staff and the maternity unit, their patients are being affected. We have heard recently of women, as the minister said, asking whether they should use the maternity unit. It is vitally important that women going through the birthing process are able to trust in those people who are providing the services to them. I hope that, as a result of these reviews, trust and confidence in the maternity unit and amongst the staff can be restored to high levels. Providing a public service of a high standard to the community should be of utmost importance in anything that we are considering.
MR HANSON (Molonglo) (4.14): We will not be supporting the government's amendment. We have made a case for the need for an inquiry, and I and my colleagues will speak further on it. We have not as yet seen the terms of reference, but the outline of the nature of the inquiry indicates, in my view, that they will not be sufficient, and that is because of the gravity of the concerns that have been raised and the response that we have seen from the minister. I do not think people will take her intent as seriously as perhaps they would have if she had treated this more seriously when it first arose. I think there will be some degree of scepticism about how thorough she wants this review to be. I think that the way she has dismissed so many of the claims, the way she has been dismissive of any concern about clinical outcomes, would lead one to suspect that she is not going to be pursuing this with the sort of rigour that would be the case if it were conducted under the Inquiries Act.
I do have real concerns about safety. Ms Bresnan just outlined the real effect of bullying and intimidation in the workplace, the consequences of it, the effects it has on people, the effects it has on people's lives and, without question, the effect it has