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Tuesday, 30 November 1965


Mr Whitlam m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

1.   What biological products have been prescribed for production, sale and research by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission? On what dates were they prescribed?

2.   In what cases and on what dates has he determined that the Laboratories should (a) undertake research towards the production of biological products other than those prescribed for production, sale and research and (b) install or maintain plant or equipment capable of being used for the production of biological products, and produce and hold stocks of biological products, for purposes other than the immediate sale of those products?


Mr Swartz - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows -

1.   The prescribed biological products are specified in the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Regulations, which have been made as follows -

 

A number of products is involved, and accordingly I am arranging for a copy of the Regulations to be forwarded to the honorable member. 2. (a) Determinations relating to research on other than prescribed products have been made in respect of each of the financial years since 1962-63 as follows- 1962- 63 - Determination made on 30th November 1962-

(a)   The investigation of Australasian soils for antibiotic-producing moulds and the clinical evaluation of any new antibiotics discovered.

(b)   The investigation and testing of human and veterinary viruses and the methods of isolation and identification of these for new vaccines.

(c)   The identification of types of staphylococci involved in bovine mastitis for the preparation of a vaccine.

(d)   The investigation of factors concerned with the pathogenicity of microorganisms and the purification of bacterial antigens.

The Commission's expenditure under this Determination was £108,333. 1963- 64 - Determination made on 16th April 1963-

(a)   The investigation of Australasian soils forantibioticproducingmoulds.

(b)   The development of inactivated and attenuated strains of virus for a measles vaccine.

(c)   The development and testing of a vaccine for staphylococci] bovine mastitis.

(d)   The investigation of factors concerned with the pathogenicity of microorganisms and the purification of bacterial antigens.

(e)   Biochemical factors involved in antibiotic resistance in staphylococci.

Determination made on 10th October 1963 -

(a)   Screening of biologically acting compounds in co-operation with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

The Commission's expenditure under these Determinations was £83,820. 1964- 65 - Determination made on 24th April 1964-

(a)   The nature of essential antigens of pathogenic micro-organisms.

(b)   Bacteriological problems associated with human disease in New Guinea.

(c)   Biochemical factors concerned or associated with antibiotic resistance.

(d)   The nature of immunological response to viral vaccines and factors influencing such response.

(e)   Screening of biologically acting compounds in co-operation with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

The Commission's expenditure under this Determination was £107,935. 1965-66 - Determination made on 29th April 1965-

(a)   The nature of essential antigens of pathogenic micro-organisms.

(b)   Bacteriological problems associated with human and animal disease in Papua-New Guinea.

(c)   Clinical effects and applications of various non-cellular constituents of plasma.

(d)   Factors concerned in development of clinical resistance to antibiotics. (e)The nature of immunological response to viral vaccines and factors influencing such response. (f)Screening of biologically active compounds in co-operation with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and other organisations. 2. (b) The only determination in this respect is one made on 28th February 1963, authorising the Commission to produce and hold at the Laboratories 1,000,000 doses of smallpox vaccine for purposes other than the immediate sale of this product.

Life Insurance Policies.


Sir Robert Menzies . - On 31st August 1965, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) asked me to investigate an allegation contained in a question asked by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) that life insurance companies are -

(i)   refusing to insure soldiers serving in South Vietnam;

(ii)   re-writing policies so that soldiers in South Vietnam will have less protection than they would have had if they had remained in Australia as civilians.

I pointed out at the time that I would also need to know past practices as well as the position relating to South Vietnam.

I am informed that, in the case of the Second World War, all policy conditions reducing liability in the event of death due to war service were waived by the great majority of the life insurance companies then operating in this country. On the other hand, war clauses were inserted in new policies issued during the continuance of that conflict - frequently, however, the limitations imposed by such clauses could be reduced or removed by payment of an extra premium at a rate varying with the risks involved.

I understand that at the time of the Korean War a few life insurance companies refused to insure servicemen under notice of posting to a combat area. The remaining registered companies which deal with the public issued policies of life insurance on application by such servicemen provided an appropriate extra premium, which varied from one company to another, was paid during the period of service in that area. As during the Second World War, there were in some cases limitations as to the size and type of policy. The position is substantially the same in the case of servicemen who are under notice of posting to Malaysia or South Vietnam.

In relation to all three campaigns, I am informed that most companies have issued or will issue life insurance policies, which are free of restrictive clauses limiting the benefit payable on death due to war, to servicemen who are not under notice of posting to a battle zone or combat area and who are not subject to any other form of special or extra risk. There is, I understand, no uniformity of practice as regards the type of policy which may be obtained or the maximum sum which may be insured - some companies will only issue endowment insurance contracts under which the sum insured is payable at the end of a fixed term of years or on prior death; other companies have no restrictions on these aspects. The maximum sum insured varies from £5,000 to unlimited amounts.

I gather that there is no question of life insurance policies now in force being rewritten without the consent of the policyholder so as to vary the protection already afforded by those policies. Life insurance policies are written for a definite period and all terms and conditions are set out in the contract when it is effected.

The Honorable the Leader of the Opposition will probably recall that when he was in charge of the Life Insurance Bill in 1945 he accepted an amendment proposed by the then Opposition and which became Section 121 of the Life Insurance Act. This section reads as follows - "Any term or conditions of a policy issued after the commencement of this Act which limits, to an amount less than the sum insured, the amount payable under the policy in the event of the death of the life insured occurring on war service, shall not have any force or effect, unless the person who effected the policy agreed in writing to the insertion in the policy of that term or condition".

The Section effectively precludes the insertion in a policy of restrictive conditions on account of war service without the applicant's express consent in writing.

The practices adopted by the companies are based on what I am informed is a well established insurance principle that each insured person should pay a premium commensurate with the risks as they appear at the time when the proposal for insurance is being considered.

Concerning the supplementary question asked by the honorable member for Scullin on 2nd September, I understand that the $10,000 insurance scheme to which he referred appeared in a proposed Congressional Bill which has been rejected by the Committee on Veteran Affairs of the United States House of Representatives. Instead, a contributory scheme is being considered.

The matter of life insurance of servicemen has been examined on previous occasions but it is considered that, having regard to Australian conditions, adequate provision exists under the present legislation to meet the immediate and future needs of dependants of personnel killed on active service.

The policy followed is that compensation paid takes the form of a pension, the rates of which are reviewed periodically, designed to meet the real needs of widows and other dependants.

I would point out that for those who suffer incapacity arising from war service, and for the dependants of those whose deaths are caused by war service, the Commonwealth under repatriation arrangements provides a comprehensive system of compensatory pensions, medical treatment and related benefits, and a wide range of other assistance. These provisions compare favourably with those of other countries.

The Government is not aware that the insurance matters raised have had any prejudicial effect on recruiting.







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