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Access to Reproductive Health Services for Women
Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
Today is the day the Health minister is due to report back to Parliament on the availability of termination services for Tasmanian women. Is it not it true that there is a deep, ideologically driven divide with your party room on this issue that is ultimately causing Tasmanian women to suffer? Premier, how long do Tasmanian women have to pay for your lack of leadership? When will women be able to access safe, affordable termination services in Tasmania? Will it only be when your Health minister resigns?
Madam Speaker, in answering this question I refute the suggestions made by the member for Denison about the progress we are endeavouring to make as a Government to provide greater access to services. That is done on the basis of what is possible at an operational and clinical level, what is suitable for Tasmania's health system and what could provide the efficient and affordable access to service that we all want to see happen - all under a policy setting that was exactly the same as that which existed under Labor and the Greens. If they had wanted to, they had 16 years to change it, but they did not.
Ms White - You removed it from the Criminal Code. Then you won government and you did nothing.
Mr HODGMAN - We are now dealing with similar circumstances -
Madam SPEAKER - Order. You have asked a very important question and I suggest we hear what the Premier has to say.
Mr HODGMAN - We are dealing with circumstances that are similar with respect to access and worsened by virtue of the fact that a private provider left the state. We are dealing with the same policy settings that existed under the former government of which the member who asks the question was a Cabinet minister. We are endeavouring, as we have done in response to the resolution of the parliament, to provide the House with an update and that will happen in due course. That is designed entirely to achieve the sorts of outcomes the member speaks to in relation to restoring access to surgical terminations, which are available, as we have said on numerous occasions, in the private sector. The closure of the local provider has resulted in that gap for low-cost surgical terminations in the private sector and that is a matter we have been endeavouring to address as quickly, efficiently and effectively as possible, with a private provider.
Given that this matter will be the subject of a response from the minister in due course, as was required under that resolution, I can say that the department of Health has now reached an in principle five-year agreement for a new private provider to deliver services in Tasmania. The service will commence later this year and is contingent of course on the finalisation of the terms of the agreement, licensing and accreditation requirements, which are the matters I referred to that have required ongoing discussion with such a provider.
I can add also that patient transport and travel assistance will be available, not only for interstate but for intrastate travel to the service, which is expected to be based in Hobart. Our public hospitals will continue to provide terminations in cases of high need, such as to save the life of a mother or where there is severe foetal illness or damage -
This, as I say, has been the longstanding policy position of successive governments. I am able to confirm that at some stage today there will be a further statement from the secretary of the Department of Health in relation to the new service, which we hope to be available for more Tasmanian women at the earliest opportunity.