Page 218 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 28 November 2012

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This is something that midwives and parents have been calling for over many years and that the Greens are pleased to see. We know that many birthing outcomes and indicators, such as lower rates of caesareans and inductions, are much improved by giving women the opportunity to use a birthing centre. We also know that when a birthing centre is not attached to a hospital these rates improve even more.

The Canberra midwifery program run at the birth centre is a great model which allows women to have a natural birth in a relaxing, home-like environment supported by midwives. It is under very high demand. Around 600 women use the service each year and it has an extremely long waiting list. Generally, if you want to use the centre, it is wise to book within one to two months of becoming pregnant if possible. This means that many parents are simply not able to access the service. In fact, we understand the unmet demand means that around 400 mothers miss out on this opportunity each year.

The Greens support the additional birth centre being created at Calvary which will give northsiders more options but this does not address the calls for a stand-alone centre, nor does it address demand for public birthing services on the north side. There is huge demand on birthing services in the ACT. As we increase capacity we should also be increasing people’s options. The Greens believe that the option of having a midwife-led natural birth needs to be in the mix of options available to Canberrans.

On that basis, I will be supporting Ms Gallagher’s amendment to Mr Hanson’s motion. I believe it picks up the key points as I read Mr Hanson’s motion. The essence of the first part of his motion, as is the nature of these motions on private members’ day, gives Mr Hanson’s perspective on things. It cuts a particular narrative. Ms Gallagher has her interpretation. But I think the important paragraph is the second one, which is the “calls on” section. To my mind, the two most important parts of Mr Hanson’s motion are to circulate to members the terms of reference and to circulate the review to members once it has been completed.

The proposal from Ms Gallagher actually speaks to public circulation of those documents. In some ways, that is even more preferable. It does not just come to members; it gets to the entire community. So I think the central parts of Mr Hanson’s motion have been picked up in the amendment. On that basis I will be supporting it.

MR HANSON (Molonglo) (5.15): We will not be supporting the amendment and I am disappointed again that Mr Rattenbury will be siding with the government because it clearly does not go to some of the important points that are in my motion. It does raise the question also, just from a technical point of view, as to when Mr Rattenbury got this amendment as compared to when we did. We got it circulated about an hour ago. Obviously, Mr Rattenbury got it well before that, I imagine, because he said earlier this day in response to an amendment that I put through that he would not support amendments that were delivered at short notice and that were detailed, which is exactly what has essentially happened to the opposition.

So it is interesting that Mr Rattenbury chooses now to support an amendment that has been circulated at short notice and is complicated when earlier in the day he said that

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