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Tuesday, 2 June 1942

Mr MORGAN (REID, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All will depend on the person administering the legislation. I suppose that if the "Fuehrer of Kangaroo Island " were handling the matter the new procedure would not represent any improvement at all. This method might well be applied by this Parliament in dealing with a newspaper which is alleged to have reflected on certain honorable senators and members. Action taken by the Senate in the instance to which 1 refer penalizes not only the man responsible for the article complained of, but also his fellow employees, the newspaper organization itself, and that section of the public which looks to that newspaper for reports of proceedings in this Parliament. I am pleased that the Government has adopted this method of dealing with objectionable broadcasts; and I hope that as the result of its application the moral tone of the community will be improved.

Under this measure it is proposed to prevent the dramatization of political items. I do not quite see the reason for that. I should like further explanation of the point.

Mr Archie Cameron - If the honorable member recalls some of the stuff that was put over the air by his party at the last genera] elections, he will understand the reason for this provision.

Mr MORGAN - Apparently, Labour's political broadcasts on that occasion convinced the electors of the proper way to vote. Very often the dramatization of an item presents it more clearly than announcements made in the usual humdrum style. I am not convinced that good reason exists for the total prohibition of political broadcasts on the two days preceding the date of the election. I can we'll imagine that it might be necessary to permit a political broadcast on the last two days in order to expose a last-minute stunt by an opposing party. Attempts have been made in the past by certain political parties to stampede the electors at the last minute. Some years ago, in New South "Wales, a sectarian stunt put over at the last moment stampeded the electors, but the opposing political party had no opportunity whatever to expose the stunt. Therefore, whilst it might be wise to prohibit political broadcasts on the two days immediately preceding the date of an election, some safeguard should be provided by allowing interested parties to make an effective reply.

Mr Calwell - It is impossible to make such a provision.

Mr MORGAN - Surely, the proposed parliamentary standing committee could work out some such scheme. .Sub-clause 4 of clause 69, and clause 101, provide that the texts of advertisements of medicines and medical talks must be approved by the Director-General of Health, or such persons in each State as are delegated by him to give that approval. That is a retrograde step. It is not in the general interest of the community that advertisements on matters affecting health, or talks of a scientific nature, must be referred to one individual who may have his own ideas on these particular subjects. The committee recognized this fact because in paragraph 434 of its report, it states - . . . In making this recommendation we desire to point out that certain unregistered health practitioners, such as osteopaths, have sometimes been in advance of medical practice, and we recommend that there be no prohibition of advertisements by chiropractors, osteopaths and similar practitioners unless their work is prohibited by legislation.

So far as I can ascertain, this bill does not give effect to that recommendation. If the Minister is not prepared to do so, I shall submit an amendment along those lines. It is important to bear in mind that the trend to-day is to give to orthodox medical practitioners a complete monopoly of health services. That trend is apparent in not only this country, but also throughout the world. "Within the last year or so, a prosecution was launched in the United States of America under the Sherman anti-trust law against the American Medical Association, which is the equivalent of the British Medical Association; also against a number of medical societies and practitioners for certain conduct which had the object of obstructing the operations of certain co-operative medical societies. Similarly, action has been taken in some of the States of the Commonwealth to place the control of health services completely in the hands of orthodox medical practitioners. I admit that the latter are entitled to preserve their rights. However, in the past, many lay practitioners have been well ahead of the times in their particular field. This fact is pointed out by the committee in its report. Even in the Australian Capital Territory, osteopaths and chiropractors are not allowed to practise their science, although they are allowed to do so in most of the States, as well as in most other countries, and their service is legally recognized throughout the United States of America, f admit that in the Australian Capital

Territory no serious obstacle is placed in their way; but the fact remains that their operations are not legalized. When a medical bill was introduced a couple of years ago, in the Parliament of New South Wales a provision similar to this was recommended, in order to preserve the rights of these classes of lay practitioners. On that occasion a definite undertaking was then given by the then Minister for Health, Mr. FitzsimonS, that that would be done. However, it was provided that regulations enacted under that measure must be approved by both Houses; and, unfortunately, the Upper Chamber so mutilated those regulations that these lay practitioners are now prevented from advertising their science through the press. The State was unable to prevent such advertisements from being broadcast, because it has no jurisdiction over broadcasting. It seems to be most undesirable, therefore, that this Parliament should now prohibit these classes of lay practitioners from advertising their science.

Mr ARCHIE Cameron - Is it a science ?

Mr MORGAN - Yes; osteopathy is a science. It was practised by the wellknown bone-setter, Sir Herbert Barker, who was persecuted by orthodox medical practitioners for many years. Even during the last war, although he volunteered to do so, he was not allowed to give his services for the benefit of wounded soldiers. However, after the war, when his work achieved recognition throughout the community, over 100 medical practitioners signed a petition to the King to grant him a knighthood. His early persecution, however, debarred him from benefiting many people in need of his special knowledge. I need hardly remind honorable members that Pasteur was persecuted in a similar way. For many years, he was ostracized by the orthodox medical profession. Yet Pasteur discovered the germ theory as the cause of disease, and that theory is accepted to-day by the medical profession. The same observation applies to Dr. Harvey, who investigated the circulation of the blood. He was a medical practitioner. His theory was laughed at; and he was ostracized by the medical profession. He died a pauper. Coming nearer home, I recall the opposition on the part of the medical profession to Sister Kenny, and her special treatment of victims of infantile paralysis. She had to overcome many obstacles in order to explain her treatment to the community. If the provision in this measure dealing with medical advertisements and talks be adopted, the work of discoverers of cures of this kind may be seriously hampered. Good health is life itself; it is the basis of human existence. The trend to-day is towards the prevention rather than the cure of diseases. I appreciate the views which the committee apparently had in mind with respect to the advertising of patent medicines and quack remedies. Many years ago, a committee appointed by this Parliament exposed the patent medicine racket. It revealed that quack remedies, which actually cost a few pence, were retailed to the public at exorbitant prices. At the same time many remedies usually placed in this class may be efficacious; otherwise, they would not be so generally sought after by the public. If such matters are placed completely under the control of the orthodox medical profession, people may not be able to buy patent medicines without first securing a prescription from their medical advisers. Thus, such medicines may cost the public the usual, consultation fee of 10s. 6d. in addition to the usual retail price of from 2s. 6d. to 5s. a bottle.

Mr Spender - Why does the honorable member say that the safeguard of appeal to the Minister is not sufficient?

Mr MORGAN - In the first place, the Minister will be too busy to deal with these matters, and in the second place, he will not have the necessary technical knowledge. How could he determine the ingredients of various patent medicines, or the medical value of osteopathy?

Mr Arch re Cameron - The DirectorGeneral of Health would have the necessary knowledge.

Mr MORGAN - Yes, but he would be bound by orthodox methods.

Mr Archie Cameron - Surely the honorable member does not complain of orthodoxy?

Mr MORGAN - People should be free to consult an orthodox medical practitioner, or an unregistered practitioner first, as they choose.

Mr Archie Cameron - Does the honorable member believe that laymen should be allowed to practice in the courts?

Mr MORGAN - Only laymen are allowed to appear before certain tribunals. Under this legislation the Director-General of Health will be a virtual dictator, able to prescribe what people may buy and what they may not in the way of medicine. Only recently, when the question of white bread as a healthful food was under discussion, the Director-General of Health said thai he did not regard the issue as important: indeed, the Minister for Health said that the Director-'General had not given much thought to it, but he inclined to the belief that white bread was a satisfactory article of diet. Nevertheless, we know that Sir Raphael Cilento is of opinion that white bread is definitely harmful, an opinion which is shared by the King's physician, Lord Horder There is also a sharp cleavage of opinion on the vexed question of immunization. Perhaps that is why this provision has been included in the bill. We know that some directors of health have fixed ideas on the subject, and are anxious that all children should be immunized against certain diseases, but a great many people think that the whole thing is just a commercial racket. As a matter of fact, a petition signed by 58 members of the medical profession practising on the Island of Guernsey stated that, in their opinion, immunization against diphtheria was valueless. I do not propose to enter the controversy, or to say whether immunization is good or bad, but I do think that both sides of the question should be heard. It is all very well, to say that the Minister will be able to hear appeals, but we know thai in practice he will be guided by his expert advisers.

Mr Spender - Then there will, in fact, be no appeal at all.

Mr MORGAN - It will be an appeal from Caesar to Caesar. I suggest that the term " medical " as used in the bill be more precisely defined. The Director - General of Health might think that certain methods of treatment ought not to he recognized, but other competent persons might differ from him. We know that Mr. Weaver resigned as Minister for Health in New South Wales because be objected to a proposal that all medical services should be controlled by the officially recognized medical profession. I believe that we should, safeguard, the rights of unofficial medical practitioners. If there are difficulties in the way of including a comprehensive definition in the bill, provision should be made for the position to be covered by regulations.

Inother respects, I regard the bill as satisfactory, more especially as it brings all forms of broadcasting under the control of the Government, so that it will be possible to improve the moral tone of broadcasting, and to raise educational standards. I am glad that it is proposed to grant concessions in the matter of licence-fees to schools and hospitals, and to invalid and old-age pensioners. There is a truly human touch about that. At last it appears to be recognized that broadcasting is not something which should be exploited purely for commercial profit, but should be used for' the benefit of the community as a whole.

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