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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2012..


Medical indemnity

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Attorney-General, Mr Stanhope. I refer to comments by Dr Ian Pryor of the Australian Medical Association in today's Canberra Times. The paper reports:

Australian Medical Association ACT President Dr Ian Pryor hit back, saying the Government's "monumentally incompetent"handling of the issue had created the crisis ...

Dr Pryor continues:

... "Specialists are not prepared to lay themselves or their families on the line because the Government has been too incompetent to [legislate] in time."

You have known about the deadline for legislation to cover this situation for 18 months but will introduce legislation to attempt to address the situation only next week. Why have you been so incompetent by introducing legislation to address this state of affairs one week before the deadline?

MR STANHOPE

: Mr Pratt, there is no deadline. The AMA, or obstetricians operating out of John James, can seek to assert that there is a deadline. Whose deadline is this? This is the deadline of the AMA, or the deadline of obstetricians working out of John James. We can all impose deadlines, can't we? We can make them up; we can look at a calendar and say, "Here's a good deadline. This is the government's deadline. We insist that the government legislate by this date."

Mr Smyth

: You can make up economic cycles!

MR STANHOPE

: That is an interesting deadline that we all look forward to-the next election. Some of us look forward to it perhaps with more gusto than others. That is one deadline that I am not sure you are anticipating all that willingly or openly-certainly not with the gusto with which we are, on this side.

MR SPEAKER

: Order, members! Confine yourself to the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, there is no deadline. Certainly there is a deadline in the minds of some specialists operating out of John James, insofar as they are suggesting that they may withdraw their services on and from 1 July. This is unlike the legislation we are currently debating in this place. As I indicated yesterday, the legislation we will be introducing next week has been foreshadowed for some time. I made public the details of it in April this year, at the same time as declaring that we would be introducing legislation in June. All but four relate to the one issue of a potential statute of limitations reduction in relation to children.

It is interesting, Mr Pratt, in the context of the question you ask, that you quoted Dr Pryor's question whether the Chief Minister is prepared to put himself in the same situation as the specialists at John James. What about their families having to wait 24 years?


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