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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (8 August) . . Page.. 2549 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

employed midwives and offered birthing services in four major Adelaide hospitals as well as a home birth option. The home birth option, as I understand it, accounts for about 20 per cent of births in north Adelaide. It is a slightly different model from that in Fremantle. The outcomes from the Adelaide model, according to the South Australian health minister, on an anecdotal basis, are quite good.

The situation we face here is similar to what happened in the United Kingdom about seven years ago, when indemnity cover became difficult. The result in the United Kingdom was that midwifery services were successfully integrated into the public health system, protecting quality and safety, providing skilled back-up and being underpinned by a woman's right to choose.

We need to go for a successful outcome. Recognise the intent of Ms Tucker's motion, accept my very minor amendment to it, and allow us to get on with the work of delivering a safe and appropriate method of offering the option of home birth. We should not seek to have government simply subsidise or pay the medical indemnity insurance of people who contract to government. The precedent is unacceptable.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (12.02): This debate is very important. Mr Moore, in his response to Ms Tucker, moved an amendment to include the word "appropriate" instead of the word "necessary". I guess the word "necessary" was ambiguous. I guess it is as ambiguous as the word "appropriate".

Perhaps it comes down to a question of why we should seek to support midwives and the prospect of home birth and what might be appropriate. In the context of what is appropriate I will go initially to some analysis of the position the government has adopted in relation to medical indemnity insurance for doctors.

Mr Moore: We are prepared to do the same for midwives.

MR STANHOPE: That is interesting. I guess the midwives would be pleased to hear that the minister has promised that he will do for midwives precisely what he has done for doctors. It is appropriate that I read from the latest edition of Canberra Doctor what the government's response to the doctors has been. This is an article by the head of the AMA:

In response to the "call" by UMP, and the possibility of a seriously depleted VMO workforce, Health Minister, Michael Moore, applied the resources of government and his department to develop a package which would cover the public and private practices of VMOs (and salaried specialists).

AMA branch president, Dr Bob Allan, raised the issue in October 2000 at crisis meetings with the minister for health and departmental CEO, Dr Penny Gregory, immediately prior to and after Christmas. The article goes on:

In informing the VMOs of the proposal, the ACT Department of Health advised in recognition of the continuing difficulties faced by doctors working in Canberra's public hospitals concerning medical indemnity, the ACT Government has developed a proposal to use the combined buying power-

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