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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3215 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

medical experts assume that function, a function that in the common law world has always been undertaken by the courts. Neave recommends that we stick with the court process. It is for the court to determine. It is for a judge, a judicial officer, to determine whether negligence has been proved or has occurred. It is not for a group of experts outside the judiciary to do so. So there are some major differences.

I indicated yesterday that Ipp and Neave each make recommendations on shortening the limitation period. Those are very big issues. These are not things that one just flings about and decides, "That looks like a good idea. We will cop that recommendation and refuse this."

There is no inconsistency in our statements or the position we have taken or put in relation to medical indemnity or public liability insurance. We are taking a detailed and measured look at all of the issues. We are looking for long-term sustainable responses that will bring premiums down.

Knee-jerk, quick flick, "aren't I wonderful", political approaches and responses such as yours, Mr Smyth, will do nothing to the level of premiums. They will be counterproductive. Your proposals would not work. They are a gimmick.

Mr Smyth: Are you sure?

MR STANHOPE: Absolutely. They are a gimmick designed to give you, the opposition, some little profile or platform on the issue to make it look as though you have some relevance.

Mr Smyth: You were not doing anything.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Smyth says, "You are not doing anything." Tomorrow we are debating it. I bet you are not across the detail of it. Tomorrow we will see exactly what you understand of the principles when we debate a 150-page bill, a most significant piece of legislation that I bet you do not have a clue about. You will not understand a single aspect or principle. I know you will not. It will be embarrassing to watch your performance-again.

MR SMYTH: Chief Minister, if as you have just said it is not inconsistent with the Ipp report and if the legislation is based on its recommendations, then why is the ACT government refusing to pay its fair share of the costs of the Ipp committee?

MR STANHOPE: This question was asked of the Treasurer yesterday, but I am happy to have my go at it as well. Mr Quinlan was quite right. The Commonwealth cannot have it both ways in an arrangement with the states and territories to proceed cooperatively on any issue, whether it is an investigation into public liability insurance or anything else. This is not how the federation works. This is not how the Commonwealth operates. The Commonwealth stands up and says, "Let us cooperate, the Commonwealth and all the states and territories, by taking forward the debate in relation to public liability insurance." The states and territories want a nationally consistent approach, want the Commonwealth to play its part, but as partners in the Commonwealth we have a role because we are going to legislate.

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