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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (8 August) . . Page.. 2554 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

right word, I can live with that. I thought I would try to make sure that the Assembly understood that I was doing everything I could in a appropriate way rather than everything I could, which could perhaps be misinterpreted as meaning that there was something I was doing. I tried to explain where I thought it would be inappropriate. That was the thrust of my speech to the Assembly.

The medical practitioners who work in our government hospitals and our government services have an extra commitment in that area. But we have used our good services to apply our buying power for our independent midwives as well. I am not sure that it will work for two people here and a bigger range across Australia. GP obstetricians right across Australia have stopped working because of the costs of medical indemnity insurance. That is something we have to look at. It is appropriate that we look at a wide range of possibilities.

I do not object to the motion. I said right from the beginning that the sense and the thrust of the motion are entirely appropriate. We have been doing, and we will continue to do, what we can to assist midwives. Mr Speaker and members, thank you very much for the extra time to clarify my earlier comments.

Amendment agreed to.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (12.20): I want to make a brief contribution, Mr Speaker. I met with representatives of the midwives in question last Friday. I was able to discuss with them the concerns they had. I indicated to them much of what Mr Moore has indicated today in the Assembly-that the government was quite willing to assist in facilitating some solution to this matter.

I warned them that it was not possible to guarantee a solution, and that there was no opportunity for government to step in and act as the insurer and assume the risks and responsibilities which an insurer might assume in these circumstances. I indicated that arrangements which were parallel to or emulated the arrangements made for doctors would be considered and that we would facilitate this, if we could, within the timeframe that they were considering, which was before the expiry of their present insurance arrangements.

How this might be achieved was discussed, and I made the point to them that the government valued independent midwifery and wanted to ensure that it continued to take place in the city, but that there were implications for other health professionals and occupations if a blanket decision was made that government should ensure, under any circumstances, that such occupations continue.

The point has been raised, for example, that in the ACT at the present time GPs are very little, if at all, involved in delivering babies. At one stage a person would normally go to their GP and have the GP present at the birth of their child. These days that is very rare. In fact, I am not sure that it happens at all these days. The reason is very simple. The cost of insurance has gone through the roof, and these days it is no longer possible for ordinary suburban GPs to be involved in that activity.

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