Page 2470 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 29 June 2005

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Okay, there is a delay. So what work is the government is doing in its response? Mr Corbell says, “We are looking at other states.” The committee went to New Zealand. I think that was because they knew that there was good practice there. So is the government just duplicating the work that the committee has already done?

In the Northern Territory the ALP went to the election with two promises. One was to set up training for midwives. The other was to look at indemnity insurance so that midwives could practice. There is a real commitment there in that other state. If we are looking at other states, I am hoping that that is the lesson that has been learnt. Is the government preparing cost-benefit analyses comparing birthing in birth centres with midwife-led care with obstetrician-led care? Is it checking the unmet need for the birth centre?

If I had evidence that the government was doing those kinds of things, I would be much better able to accept this year-plus delay. I have moved this motion to indicate that we want a response one way or the other. We have just been told that we have to wait until August, and I have moved the amendment to Mr Corbell’s amendment so that we can at least get a sense of the government’s thinking towards a final response through the tabling of a draft response during this sitting week.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (4.39): The government will not be supporting the amendment proposed to my amendment to Dr Foskey’s motion. The reason for that is that it is a nonsensical proposition. How can a government response be provided to the community in draft form? For example, what status does it have? Is it the position of the government or isn't it? Quite clearly, the government cannot release a draft response if the government has not considered what its response should be. How can it be the government’s position? It is not the practice of any government to release a draft of its response for the public.

The role of the government is to respond and put its position to a committee report. As I have indicated to members, that is what the government is doing. I have outlined the reasons the government is taking the time it is taking to prepare that response. I appreciate that members, or at least some members, are unhappy with the amount of time that has been taken. But I would have thought, in particular from the Greens, that a comprehensive analysis of the issues was warranted prior to the government responding. Of course, the Greens usually require that on most other issues that come before this place. It is not a sensible proposition from Dr Foskey. It is not about providing a draft response. What purpose would a draft response serve? First of all, would such a draft response represent the position of the government? If anything, it would simply create more confusion: the government has sort of responded. It is a silly proposition.

I can only reiterate: the government’s view is that the range of issues is complex and we are preparing a response. I have indicated to members in my amendment when I anticipate that response to be available. Then, obviously, members of the community and members of the Assembly can make their judgments about the adequacy or otherwise of the government’s response. But I do not think it is appropriate practice or, indeed, serves any good purpose to release a draft response. It is something that has never been done before. Indeed, in my view, it would only add confusion to the debate when members already know that a response will be tabled in the next sittings of this place.

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