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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2425 ..

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think I have made the point that this is an extremely important piece of legislation. It is urgent. It is vital that we develop the building blocks to allow us to deal comprehensively with issues around insurance, and that is what we are doing. This is a comprehensive, detailed and measured response to issues affecting the availability of insurance within our community. This is a detailed response to the issue of the affordability of premiums. This is an absolutely vital piece of legislation. What it does is codify all the laws in the ACT relating to torts, wrongs and issues of negligence. It is a vital piece of legislation.

It provides a building block to allow us to go on and implement the response that we expect to be provided by the expert group created by Australian health ministers. Every jurisdiction is participating in the development of detailed responses to medical indemnity insurance. Every jurisdiction in Australia, led by the Commonwealth, is developing a detailed response, through the Justice Ipp committee, to public liability insurance issues.

We expect to have the Marcia Neave report within a week, we expect to have the Justice Ipp report within three weeks and we need to be in a position to respond immediately. We have that detailed work here. This piece of legislation is vital. I am absolutely astounded that the Liberal Party do not care about the need for us to address the insurance crisis and that they do not care about the Canberra community. All I can say is: shame on you.

MR STEFANIAK (11.59): Mr Speaker, addressing the substantive point of this motion rather than going into the theatrics the Chief Minister is going into, there is a convention in this place in regard to bringing in legislation that the opposition be told. That is something that we stuck to and if we did not in our 61/2 years of government, the then opposition quite rightly brought it to our attention.

That is the point. This bill has not been notified, as is normal, to the opposition. My office has not been contacted, and I do not think anyone else in the opposition has been-that is, as of 10.30 this morning. That is the convention. If it had occurred yesterday we would not have had a problem. One has to wonder, especially if the Chief Minister is ranting and raving about this, about the government's commitment.

The opposition, through Mr Smyth, announced in mid-July that it was preparing legislation. Mr Smyth indicated several days ago that he will be introducing two bills tomorrow in private members business. One has to wonder whether this is just the government responding to that rather than vice versa. To say that the opposition does not care about the substantive issue is absolute garbage; it has shown that by its actions. If this is simply the government trying to play petty politics and get a jump on what the opposition is doing, that does not help the substantive issue, which we take incredibly seriously.

I am pleased to see that the government has got a bill; I look forward to seeing it. There is nothing to stop the Chief Minister putting it in on Thursday, as is normal. If this bill is so important and so good, we should all see it. There is nothing to stop him giving members a copy before he even introduces it. That has occurred in the past as well.

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