Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2977 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
Let us take a situation where Professor Ellwood has taken a woman through a most difficult situation, understanding that the foetus that she is carrying is abnormal in perhaps a very significant way. She, in turn, has made her decision to have that foetus terminated. Now Professor Ellwood has to say, "Sorry; I have been giving you the information. You will now have to go elsewhere. We are associated with the hospital, and you will have to go".
Mr Humphries: It does not do that.
MR MOORE: It does do that, Gary, and you know it. It seems to me, Mr Speaker, that, as Mr Humphries said, it also applies specifically to the Family Planning Clinic. I was very keen to remove the area that I did, because I thought it was unacceptable. I must say that in this case the new amendment that Mr Humphries puts up, although it is not quite as unacceptable, is still unacceptable. I think that what we have to do is ensure that the medical practitioner who is involved with the clinic does have the ability to deal with continuity of care.
Mr Speaker, there is something else that is implied in here - that is, direct or indirect financial interest. Of course, doctors are entitled to their return when they carry out a procedure. There is no question about that, and nobody should consider that a problem. But the Family Planning Clinic is not a hugely profitable organisation. Mr Berry would remember, from when he was Minister for Health and in fact established it, that large sums of money are used to support Family Planning in the whole range of work they do, including in this facility.
This is not a huge profit-making organisation where greedy doctors are taking advantage of women. Rather, Mr Speaker, this is a situation which people reluctantly go into to support women who have found themselves in very difficult situations. It is under those circumstances that the continuity of care becomes so important. That is what this is about. It is not about conflict of interest; it is about continuity of care. That is why we must reject this amendment put up by Mr Humphries.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (11.43): Mr Speaker, it is quite appropriate to get independent advice from an independent source. To go to an employee of the same company that is giving you one piece of advice, in the expectation that you may get differing advice, is not sensible. It is right for it to be separated. It is quite right for this to be included in this Bill.
MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (11.44): Mr Speaker, I will be opposing this amendment. I will be opposing it on straight, practical grounds. I can understand what Mr Humphries is trying to do in this legislation, but I have to say that it is at odds with medical practice. Let us just think about how medicine works generally - say, at a health centre. To carry Mr Humphries' arguments all the way through, if you went to a GP at a health centre, then that GP would not be able to refer you to anyone else in that health centre - the dietitian, the physio or whatever - on the basis of conflict of interest. Obviously, if you did not trust that GP in that health centre to provide sensible medical advice, that GP potentially would have some benefit by referring you to someone else in their own clinic.