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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2258 ..

Mr Stefaniak: The money is there for the tennis courts.

MR STANHOPE: No, you spent it, Bill.

Mr Stefaniak: I'll take you both through it and show you. Maybe you spent it.

MR STANHOPE: Gunna Bill, Gunna Gary. Promise the world, deliver nothing. You were here. It's going to be your catchcry; it's going to be your legacy-all the things you said you'd do and didn't deliver.

Home birth program

MS TUCKER: My question is also to Mr Stanhope. Mr Stanhope, earlier this year and in the budget tabled this week you made a commitment to a public-funded home birth program. Are you aware that the planning of this service is proceeding at the Canberra Hospital now, independently of the department's planned working group, with an estimated start date of August?

MR STANHOPE: I agree with you that the issue of ensuring that women have choice in birthing options is a very important one. I think you are aware of my views on this. Indeed, I was pleased to meet with you and the Maternity Coalition in relation to the capacity within this community to, in the first instance, support independent midwives in their operations and in the provision of support for women within this community.

I regret-and it is a matter of significant regret to me-that the insurance industry simply withdrew all prospect of insurance to independent midwives. There was a unilateral decision across the board that independent midwives would not be insured-that they were, in effect, uninsurable. I think that is a pity, and there are issues relating to legal indemnity insurance that need to be highlighted, particularly in relation to those sorts of unilateral decisions which have absolutely no regard for the insurance or claims history of independent midwives.

So that is the situation we find ourselves with. I was intent on responding to that. I have responded to that, and this budget does reveal, as you know, that we provide an additional $100,000 to the Canberra Hospital for the Canberra Birth Clinic to allow an outreach home birth service to be operated from the Canberra Hospital, subject to our capacity to obtain reinsurance in relation to that.

It is my expectation that the development of that service will be done in full consultation with the working party that was developed. That was my intention, my desire and my wish, and I am not aware that that wish is not being met.

MS TUCKER: I have a supplementary question. Why is it that you are putting this program in an acute setting when all the research evidence on home birth services supports a non-acute management structure? There is no precedent for such a management structure in Australia and no precedent for home birth services to be provided via a hospital.

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