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Thursday, 12 November 1959


Dr DONALD CAMERON (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) .- I refer to clause 3, which reads -

In relation to medical expenses incurred after the commencement of this section and before the first day of January, one thousand nine hundred and sixty-one, or such later date as is, before that day, fixed by Proclamation as the date on which this section shall cease to have effect, the reference in paragraph (b) of the definition of " contributor " in sub-section (1.) of section thirteen of the National Health Act 1953-1959 to "the First Schedule to this Act " shall be read as a reference to the First Schedule to the National Health Act 1953-1958.

This clause may not be fully understood, and I merely want to explain it briefly. As honorable gentlemen know, Mr. Chairman, there are two schedules of benefits under the National Health Act. The minimum subscription which a contributor can make to a fund entitles him to Commonwealth benefit under both schedules, but to fund benefit at matching rates only for the first schedule, and to no fund benefit for the second schedule. The act of contributing entitles a contributor to Commonwealth benefit. What he is doing, in effect, every time he increases his contribution, is to contribute for more fund benefit.

This bill will improve the Commonwealth benefits for certain items in respect of the lowest table of contributions, from 1st January, 1960. It is, of course, fair and logical that contributions should rise so that the lowest rate of insurance will match the new rate, not only of fund benefit, but also of Commonwealth benefit. Because there may be some mechanical or other difficulties involved in every one changing over quickly to the new contribution rates and increasing their contributions, this clause allows contributors who do not increase their contributions to obtain the new rates of Commonwealth benefit in the schedule as amended for a period of twelve months from 1st January next. After that, if they are to obtain either Commonwealth or fund benefits at the new rates, they must increase their contributions to the new rates.

I make this explanation so that nobody will be under the misapprehension that contributors are being misled about the contribution rates.







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