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Tuesday, 28 May 2002
Page: 2491

Mr WINDSOR (5:53 PM) —I would like to speak very briefly to the Space Activities Amendment Bill 2002. I think most members would be supportive of the general intent of the bill. I would like to reflect on some parts of this bill. I listened to the previous speakers talk about the insurance indemnity issues and the insurance dilemma that the Commonwealth may face in relation to some problems with space material. I would like to place on record my absolute disgust that parliament today is not even bothering to debate the issue of public liability and the concerns that the general community have about medical indemnity and public liability in relation to the normal activities of our daily lives. I know it is terribly important to have indemnity insurance for things that may happen in space, and I know that this bill is of crucial importance to what may fall on us at some future time. But I think those crucial matters of medical indemnity and public liability are of much more importance for this parliament to debate at this particular time.

I think the general public of Australia would be more concerned about having space for their kids at a pony club, space in a doctors surgery somewhere in country Australia or space for a Lions Club to carry out a charitable event in the future for their communities, rather than having the debate on public liability insurance gagged today to bring on the space activities debate which is about liability in terms of junk from space and some of the activities of our own space program. So I want to put on the record my absolute disgust at the way the parliament has conducted itself today, the lack of concern displayed by the Liberal and National parties about the public liability issue and the need for that debate to take place. I would hope that the opposition or perhaps the Independents at tomorrow's sitting will raise that issue once again, because it does need debate. The Australian public is looking for some leadership in relation to this issue. They are looking for solutions in relation to this issue.

Mr WINDSOR —It is all very well for the Minister for Small Business and Tourism to interject and suggest that it all has to be done by the states. There is a leadership role, particularly in the medical indemnity area—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. L.R.S. Price)—Order! The minister is not in his seat. It is highly disorderly to interject that way.

Mr WINDSOR —There is a leadership role for the Commonwealth to play, particularly in relation to medical indemnity. There are a lot of people in our community who are very concerned about what is happening. There is a lot of stress in our community, particularly in relation to the doctors at the moment, and 2 June is becoming a very crucial date in relation to those particular issues. I would urge the Minister for Small Business and Tourism, who is now seated, to take that on board and show some leadership on what this place can do in relation to medical indemnity.

Mr Hockey —You should have done this back in the state parliament.

Mr WINDSOR —I support the bill before the House, and I ask the parliament to debate a much more important issue at the next available time.