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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3157 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The ACT is at the forefront of change and reform in relation to insurance. We are doing it in a considered, measured, holistic and long-term fashion. We are interested in reforms that will not unduly affect the rights of citizens, clients and patients. We are interested in ensuring that there are sustainable reductions in premiums. Knee-jerk, ad hoc, quick-fling responses like those suggested by Mr Smyth will not do the job. There is no magic wand. There is no point thrashing around, as you have been doing, looking for quick fixes just to gain your moment in the sun. You will produce no results by responding in that way.

In relation to the other issue about which the Leader of the Opposition asks, namely the surveys that have been undertaken into the viability of medical practice, I believe, Mr Humphries, that either you or your colleague, the Deputy Leader, asked me a question on notice on this very issue some time in the last month.

I do recall responding to you in relation to my department's understanding of the number of specialists or general practitioners in the ACT who had resigned in the last year or so as a result of concerns about their capacity to find medical indemnity insurance. I have responded to that question and the answer was that, after undertaking inquiries throughout the ACT, my department was not able to identify a single specialist who had left the profession as a result of concerns about insurance.

My recollection is that my department's advice, which I provided for you-I do not have the answer here with me-was that one specialist has retired in the last year or so. The department's advice to me is that they could not identify a single specialist in the ACT who has resigned or left the profession-

Mr Cornwell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I understood that this government undertook to give short answers. This is almost a ministerial statement, and if the minister would like to make a ministerial statement, I am sure my colleagues would be delighted to hear it. There is so little on the notice paper today that we could well accommodate it.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Cornwell, whether or not the government gave a commitment to short answers is by the by when it comes to standing orders. As you would be aware, there is a standing order that deals with the issue of how concise questions ought to be. I do recall that Mr Humphries' question was quite detailed, and it invited a detailed response. However, I would invite the health minister to wind up at this stage.

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In fact, I was drawing to a conclusion, but inane points of order, particularly emanating from that seat, Mr Cornwell, are dangerous. You will soon be asked to show cause why, if you do not lift your game, you should not be expelled. Mr Cornwell, be warned.

MR HUMPHRIES: I have a supplementary, Mr Speaker, sorry. Does the criticism of Dr Pryor, coupled with the endorsement of your approach by the Australian Plaintiff Lawyers Association, suggest the approach that you have put forward works more in the interests of plaintiff lawyers than in the interests of the doctors and the health system?

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