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Howard Government needs to get back to work.

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Leader of the Australian Democrats 1 May 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/207

Howard Government needs to get back to work The Australian Democrats, today, supported the call from surgeons for the Prime Minister to recall Parliament for an emergency session to examine legislation to guarantee medical cover for doctors.

Democrats’ Leader, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, said it is time for this Government to get back to work and resolve the medical indemnity crisis.

“Despite assurances from the Government that it had a plan if UMP went into liquidation it is becoming clear that there is no plan and no certainty for doctors and patients,” said Senator Stott Despoja.

“People who have been waiting for months, sometimes years, for operations do not know when or if their doctor will be able to operate, pregnant women do not know if they will have assistance at the birth of their child - it is a mess.

“Meanwhile, we have one of the lightest parliamentary sitting periods on record - since the 2001 November federal election the Senate has sat for a total of 10 days and the House of Representatives has sat for 14 days.

“Having won a third term, we have seen no agenda from this Government, except to go into damage control when a crisis arises.

“We have had HIH, Ansett, and now UMP. This Government has once again been taken by surprise by the entirely predictable.

“The Democrats are ready and willing to work with all parties to resolve the medical indemnity crisis.

“We are aware of the concerns of doctors who are unsure of their insurance situation. The public uncertainty continues while the medical community faces the very real prospect of not being covered by insurance.

“On a larger scale, while the Government is talking about covering doctors until the 30th June we have no indication how this situation is going to be resolved after that date. And there is still no indication of how other health professionals, such as midwives are going to be assisted.

“The Australian Democrats call on the Prime Minister to recall Parliament before the Budget session on May 14 to resolve this situation,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja.

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