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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (8 August) . . Page.. 2553 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

ACT have not followed the example that other states have set by allowing independent midwives in those circumstances to remain with their client to the point of birth.

That is another debate we could have about why it is so important that we maintain this option for women. It is consistent with so much of what the minister espouses, particularly in Setting the Agenda and his stated overall objectives in relation to the health system. It seems to me that independent midwives fall fairly and squarely within the structure of the health care delivery system that the minister sought to outline in some of his public statements in relation to health care in the ACT.

All the motion does is ask the government to show the same level of commitment, the same level of energy and the same level of vigour to women and to midwives as it is prepared to show, justifiably and appropriately, to doctors.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services): Mr Speaker, I was going to take a point of order under standing order 47, but I seek leave to give a brief response to Mr Stanhope.

Leave granted.

MR MOORE: Mr Stanhope challenged me to do the same for midwives as I will for doctors, to which responded, "Yes, I will." He then went through a series of measures that I am supposedly putting in place for doctors. In quoting from the February edition of Canberra Doctor, Mr Stanhope probably does not realise that we have moved a long way on from what was being negotiated then to get a satisfactory solution. There is a difference between what you read and where we are now.

Doctors now have a direct relationship with an insurance firm by the name of St Paul. That insurance firm is able to provide a significant reduction in the costs of medical indemnity insurance for a range of medical practitioners. I have suggested to the midwives that they approach St Paul. In fact, I went further and used the consultant we are paying for, Mr Rex Spinley, to approach St Paul on their behalf.

St Paul asked the midwives-I think it was the national group of midwives rather than the specific ACT ones-to provide the statistics that are necessary for an insurance company to make a judgment about insurance. On the last briefing I had before I went to Adelaide, they had not provided that information to enable St Paul to offer them appropriate indemnity insurance.

Using not only my good offices but also the buying power of the ACT government, I am prepared, and have been, to try to get a better outcome. It goes a bit further than that. Dr Gregory is the chair of the national body that is looking at medical indemnity insurance, so we also have, if you like, some extra impact on that body. That is being used as well. I have taken this seriously, and we do take it seriously.

Mr Stanhope and Ms Tucker, quite rightly, identified where we are going as set out in Setting the Agenda. That is why we are prepared to do this work, why we are prepared to get the best possible outcomes, and why I accept the motion. I want to make it a little bit clearer. I think Mr Stanhope is right that the word "necessary" and the word "appropriate" are somewhat ambiguous. If the Assembly says that "necessary" is the

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