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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3823


Mr LEE —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I remind the Prime Minister that he intervened and made public statements about private health insurance on 28, 29 and 30 August. On how many occasions between budget week and 30 August did you or your staff speak with the office of the Minister for Health and Family Services or with the Minister for Health and Family Services? In any of those communications, did they inform you that the minister was aware of two funds having had approval to increase their rates? Did they inform you that the minister was aware in budget week that both funds had had increases?


Mr Howard —I am sorry; would you mind repeating the last bit? I did not hear it.


Mr LEE —Did the minister in any of those—


Mr Howard —No, before that.


Mr LEE —Do you want me to go right to the very beginning?


Mr Howard —No.


Mr LEE —I remind the Prime Minister that on 28, 29 and 30 August he publicly intervened and made statements about private health insurance. On how many occasions did you or your office communicate with the office of the Minister for Health and Family Services or with the Minister for Health and Family Services about health insurance? During those conversations, did the minister or his office advise you that the minister had been aware in budget week that two health funds had had approval for increases? Do you agree with the minister that it would have been patently stupid for him or his office to have advised you of those fund increases?


Mr HOWARD —I cannot, I am sorry, answer all of those questions without checking with my office.


Mr Lee —Can you take them on notice?


Mr HOWARD —Would you like me to take them on notice? Thank you, yes, I will.