Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 June 2005 2005) . . Page.. 2468 ..
Once again, I would say that it is extremely disappointing for those people who took time out to contribute to this valuable report.
I understand that the Greens believe that, by the approach it is taking, the opposition is letting the government off the hook. I think that we are in agreement with what the Greens are trying to pursue. As I have said, I started this earlier this year. Firstly, I must make clear to the Greens that this is not the case. Secondly, and more importantly, this report and its recommendations belong to the Assembly and, as such, we cannot adopt or agree to any of them. This has to be the role of government. That was just one of the anomalies I pointed out.
I would also mention that, despite its being a unanimous report at the time, we now have a new Assembly and five new members, Dr Foskey being one of them. The government’s response is therefore crucial to moving this debate forward. I am concerned that the lengthy delay indicates that the government may be facing some difficulty in adopting the recommendations of the report, and I would ask the minister to clarify his position as a matter or urgency.
We have heard nothing from this minister on what they are likely to adopt, what they might not adopt or what they are working on. We have had a bit of a rundown, but nowhere publicly has he given the people who made meaningful submissions to this report the courtesy of saying, “We’re up to here with a certain amount.” An interim report would have been very helpful, minister. I urge you not to just dismiss the report by indicating that a government is free to respond to a report in due course. How rude is that!
Just to refresh members’ memories, the report was tabled in May 2004. Surely the government has had ample time to digest it. The minister would have us believe that delays in responding to the report are due to “a range of issues within the report” and that the report “suggests fairly fundamental change to the way in which family services are delivered in the ACT”. That taken on board, I still maintain that, 12 months after the report was tabled and nearly two years after these submissions were made and when the matter was being talked about out in the public arena, we have a government that has been lackadaisical and really slack in coming forward with some sort of response to this very excellent report. Most of us would believe that more than 12 months is a sufficient time frame for a minister to fully consider proposed changes to current approaches to maternity services in the ACT.
I am cognisant of the fact that the minister may be grappling with issues in relation to any significant shift in maternity services, how costs and benefits may impact upon those services and what impact changes may have on medical indemnity insurance. But surely, minister, it would be pertinent to consider the commitment and injection of input from those involved in maternity services in the ACT. Their contributions should not be lost in this debate. It is imperative that we streamline services in the ACT. We must look at the cost-benefit analysis of all models in maternity care services and ultimately devise an approach that offers not only a first-class system, but one that allows women and their families to choose the model of care that best suits their needs. I close by calling on members to support my amendment that calls on the government to table its response no later than the first sitting day in August 2005.