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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2015..


MR STANHOPE

(continuing):

In relation to this issue, I have to say-I said this yesterday and I will stand up and continue to say it-that I don't think some of my interstate colleagues have covered themselves in glory on this issue. I think the rush to appease the insurance companies and the major professions was a little hasty. I think that, at the end of the day, it has not produced the results the people of Australia could have expected in relation to this issue.

As I said yesterday-and this is reflected in the question Mr Pratt asked-jurisdictions are legislating away current rights. I would have thought, and would have hoped, in a way, that the attempts to keep this government accountable in relation to this issue of tort law reform would have been to the effect: with these rights you are diminishing, are you sure that you have not gone too far? Are you sure, in relation to all the steps you have taken, that you have not reduced the rights of the residents of the ACT too much?"But, rather, they are saying, "You haven't done enough to look after the doctors."

I believe the question that should be asked around Australia of me and my colleagues, and of all governments, is, "Don't you think you were just a touch hasty? Don't you think you have trammelled the rights a bit too much? Do you think it is really necessary to reduce the statute of limitations from 24 years to six years? Was it really appropriate that you do that?"But they would rather say, "For God's sake! Why did you take so long? Why didn't you just trash the rights of everybody who is catastrophically injured, damaged, or injured in some way as a result of the incompetence or negligence of a person upon whom they were relying?"

This is the range of questions I expected but have never received: "For goodness sake-people have rights. You have to get the balance right. Don't you think you're going a bit too far?"I don't think I have received a single question along those lines. It is all about, "Quick, quick! Fix it quick! Don't worry about the rights of the residents of the ACT-trash them; trample them. Just keep the doctors and lawyers happy; keep the accountants and auditors happy. Don't worry about the rights you are actually removing."

Medical indemnity-obstetric workload

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. I refer to comments by Michael Roff, the executive director of the Australian Private Hospitals Association in today's Canberra Times:

"John James and Calvary hospitals deliver around half of all the babies born in the ACT-some 1,700 of the annual 3,500 births¼

For Mr Corbell to seriously suggest the ACT public system can cope with a doubling of its obstetric workload would be laughable if it didn't reveal a dire lack of understanding of the delicate nature of balanced health care here in the ACT."

Would the minister please tell me, the mother of a heavily pregnant daughter due to give birth shortly, how the public hospital system will cope when its obstetric workload is doubled on 1 July due to what Dr Ian Pryor of the AMA called the "government's monumentally incompetent handling of this issue"?

MR CORBELL

: Of course, it will not be doubled because the births that occur at Calvary are, of course, currently conducted as private births but they happen in Calvary Hospital. They simply become public births in Calvary Hospital instead of private births


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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.