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Friday, 13 December 1996
Page: 7659

Senator COONEY(12.03 a.m.) —I can understand the argument that young doctors who are not yet fully trained should not be allowed to treat patients. I can understand that proposition, but that is not the proposition that this legislation puts forward at all. Your proposed section 19CC makes that very clear. There is nothing to stop a doctor who has done an internship treating patients. So it is not about merit. It is not about protecting patients from doctors who are not qualified. If it were, you could follow that argument. But proposed section 19CC makes it quite clear that that is not the case.

This is about ensuring that the patients they do treat do not get Medicare, because it is budget driven. If you do not have a Medicare number, the only way you can be punished for treating a patient is if you do not tell the patient that you do not have a Medicare number. That is the only thing, if you look at proposed section 19CC; it is a compulsion on the doctor for treating a patient. It is an obligatory section. There is a penalty unit if he or she does not do that. If that is not conscription within the meaning of 23A, then how else would you describe it?

Senator Neal —A medical service is being provided.

Senator COONEY —A medical service is being provided and the person who is providing it is obliged to carry out the consumer protection for the Commonwealth. So why isn't proposed section 19CC a form of civil conscription? Why do you let people who are not—on your own statement—worthy, who do not have enough merit and who do not have enough training treat people?