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Thursday, 14 November 1985
Page: 2143

Senator WALTERS(11.57) —As the Minister for Community Services (Senator Grimes) would know, I am not asking the Government or him to make a decision based on the statistics that I have given. I have indicated that we do not have adequate information in respect of Australia. I am asking the Minister to make sure that we have adequate statistics before the Goverment agrees to act in a certain way.

The Minister indicated that the 34 home deliveries would have been pretty dicey. He would no doubt be aware that midwives in Tasmania are not permitted to attend home deliveries unless a doctor agrees to be on call so that he can act should there be any trouble and the mothers have been screened for home delivery.

Senator Grimes —Oh no, that is not so. I have knowledge of some of these things.

Senator WALTERS —Let me just finish. I am just saying that that is the State requirement. That is not to say that some of those 34 women did not choose to avoid all that and decide to have a home delivery. If a midwife were in attendance she would be against--

Senator Peter Baume —Once they are in labour it is a bit late.

Senator WALTERS —As Senator Peter Baume said, once they are in labour it is a bit late to get a doctor to oversee or supervise the midwife or even to call a midwife. However, I do not doubt for one minute that some of those 34 ladies may well have gone outside the accepted procedure. However, midwives in Tasmania are not permitted to attend organised home deliveries without the supervision of a doctor. So the majority of those cases would have been screened for home deliveries.

Senator Grimes —I do not want to enter into this, but I doubt whether that is true.

Senator WALTERS —The Director of the Institute of Health Economics and Technological Assessment, Mr Paul Gross, has made some very startling predictions about health costs and medical practice in Australia in the next decade. Mr Gross says that health costs could double in the next six years reaching $30 billion or $1,800 a head compared with $17 billion or $1,100 a head this year. What are the Government's predictions? Does it forecast an increase in the dimensions seen by Mr Gross? If it does, how does it intend to fund the increase?