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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2129..


Medical practitioners-Chief Minister's statements

MR CORNWELL

: My question is to the Chief Minister. I was interested in the comment he made earlier that we were not asking the right questions. Perhaps you might like to answer this one. I refer to the editorial in today's Canberra Times, which states:

Jon Stanhope's angry outburst against ACT doctors who he clearly believes to be attempting to stand over the ACT Government was over the top.

Why have you made a series of over-the-top angry outbursts against doctors rather than working constructively to address their legitimate concerns in a timely manner? Is this the sort of question you would like us to be asking? That is what I am asking.

MR STANHOPE

: I do not believe I made a series of angry outbursts. I think that is over the top. I made one slightly irritated statement. I made one statement that expressed some irritation, for which I apologised very publicly this morning. I do from time to time express some irritation and some anger at things that raise my ire. I've often regretted, in those quiet moments we have, the fact that I lose my temper.

I seek to undertake my duties in this place as a public official and a politician in a way that is consistent with standards I hold dear. I sometimes fail in the standards I set myself. I am prepared to openly admit now that I often fail in the standards I set myself in relation to behaviour I would like to exhibit. In those quiet moments we all have within the silence of our minds, I acknowledge the mistakes I make. I apologise for them and I regret the desert that I inadvertently caused others. I have no issue about standing here and saying that.

Yes, I am fallible. Yes, I do mistakes. Yes, I do have the capacity to acknowledge my failings and weaknesses. Yes, from time to time I am happy to apologise for them-as I have done to any medical practitioner in the ACT who is hurt or offended by my suggestion that they are reasonably well off and reasonably privileged in a relative sense. I know I have upset some of them; I do not know why. It seems to me there is a degree of preciousness about their response. To the extent that I upset them, I am sorry.

MR CORNWELL

: I have a supplementary question. Do you not agree that some deft diplomacy is required in dealing with this medical question? I have not seen the draft you mentioned earlier, but did you consult with the medical profession-in relation to the deft diplomacy I am speaking of-rather than make over-the-top comments?

MR STANHOPE

: Yes, I have to confess that I was irritated. Some of the irritation arose from the fact that the ACT government has consulted closely and constantly with the AMA. You hit the nail on the head, Mr Cornwell. Some of my frustration and irritation arose from the fact that we consulted closely and repeatedly. Everything was on the table. There were no surprises in there except the one issue we had not made a final decision on, which was the issue of the limitation period. We explained that that was the only issue on which we had not come to a concluded position.

In answer to your question, Mr Cornwell, we have consulted at all times with the AMA, the insurance industry, the legal profession and the other professions. We continue to do


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