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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 142 ..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

This puts me in mind of something that I was told a few years ago by a friend of mine now living in the United States. My friend had her first child here in Australia and her second child in the United States-and she does have private health insurance cover in the United States. But if she had not had her first child in Australia, she would not have been able to breastfeed either of her children because in the United States there are cases where people's insurance coverage will only cover them for one night.

If you happen to have your child at five minutes to midnight, that is considered to be the night. So you are expected to leave the hospital first thing next morning. I do not want to see that situation happening here in this country, and it seems like the federal government is hell bent on taking us down that path.

Deeble's report makes it clear that the rebate has been a failure. There is no point delaying the inevitable decision that the rebate must go. As the AMA says, the Commonwealth government needs to drastically rethink its health policy, and at the local level the ACT Legislative Assembly needs to note the impact on health issues for the people of Canberra.

Mr Smyth was talking about how the Labor Party in this place was looking to blame somebody else. Yes, we are blaming the federal government. We are blaming them for not spending the dollars in the right place.

People do not like the health care rebate. They do not like being coerced into private health insurance. I know for myself that I feel like I have been coerced into going into private health insurance. I do not like it. I am amazed at the fact that I am now paying this extra money for what seems to be no return whatsoever. And I am in an envious position, for a lot of people, in that I can afford to pay for a lot of my health costs. Yet I was wondering only the other day why it was that I had recently joined a health insurance company.

But, to try and end on a positive note, it is good to see the ACT government raising these matters at the next Commonwealth-state health ministers' forum. I commend the government and Minister Corbell for this initiative and hope the federal government will take heed of this lobbying o behalf of the people of Canberra-although this looks unlikely, considering the federal health minister's failure to show at the next meeting. I congratulate Mr Hargreaves for raising this matter and bringing it to the attention of the Assembly.

MS TUCKER (11.33): I will be speaking to the motion of Mr Hargreaves and also moving the first part of my amendment. I move:

Omit the words "and welcomes the actions of the ACT government to raise these matters", substitute "and encourages the Government to strongly convey these concerns, to detail the unmet needs of the ACT community in this area, and argue the importance of Commonwealth funding to rebuild Medicare as an equitable system of health care".

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