Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2975 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (11.33): Mr Speaker, I move amendment No. 1 circulated in my name:
Page 3, line 17, insert the following definition:
" `unrelated medical practitioner' means a medical practitioner who -
(a) is not employed by or engaged in the management of; and
(b) does not have a direct or indirect financial interest in;
an approved medical facility other than one prescribed for the purposes of this definition;".
We have just deleted the old definition of "unrelated medical practitioner" and my amendment puts in a new definition of "unrelated medical practitioner". I would like to explain simply what it does. The old provision which has just been deleted excluded the medical practitioner who was employed by or associated with an approved facility or was a partner of or a business associate of a person employed by or associated with an approved facility from being the practitioner who might provide advice to a woman about the consequences of, the risks of, and so on, an abortion, before she went to that particular approved facility to get an abortion conducted.
Mr Speaker, my amendment restores some of the notion of proximity between the abortion clinic and the practitioner providing advice about an abortion and allows another clause later in the legislation to make that kind of proximity inappropriate. I put it to the Assembly on this basis: In a whole series of situations we accept that certain people have conflicts of interest in providing information or services to other people in particular situations. For example, if Mr Moore and I went to a solicitor and said, "I want to buy Mr Moore's house and we would like you to act for both of us", that solicitor would be bound to refer both of us to independent legal advice to see whether it would be appropriate for the one solicitor with a potential conflict of interest to act for both of us.
That is an example of where ethical practice requires that there be a separation where a potential conflict of interest might arise. I put it to the Assembly that the situation where a medical practitioner who has a certain association with an abortion clinic is in the business of providing advice to women who come through the door which in turn would lead them to go to that abortion clinic to have an abortion is the kind of conflict of interest which normally this Assembly would frown upon, would argue against, and would work against in legislation of an analogous but different type.
What kind of relationship am I saying under this amendment ought there not to be between a medical practitioner and the approved facility concerned? What I am saying is that the medical practitioner concerned should not be employed by or engaged in the management of an approved medical facility, nor should he or she have a direct or indirect financial interest in that facility. So, what we have here is a situation where a doctor