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Wednesday, 13 May 1970

Dr FORBES (Barker) (Minister for Health) - In answer to the honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds), that matter has been interpreted administratively to apply to treatment under the immediate supervision of a medical practitioner. In fact, administratively it has been interpreted to include, for instance, the services of a nurse under the direction of a medical practitioner where a nurse gives an injection or something like that. It has not been interpreted administratively to apply to the case that he represented because it is the policy of the Government that physiotherapy does not come under that part of the scheme for which benefits are paid.

The honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) raised 2 points regarding contributor interest in the funds. All the funds have different rules on this matter and it is something to which my Department always pays attention in examining the rules of the funds. We would find it difficult lo register an organisation if there were no contributor representation, but the Department has not laid down rigid and precise rules in respect of this. I think that we can go too far in relation to these matters, lt should be remembered that many of these funds were in existence long before we brought this scheme into being and they had an entity of their own. I think there is a good case, where it can be demonstrated that the fund is performing its functions satisfactorily so far as the distribution of Commonwealth money is concerned and acting in the interests of contributors, to leave the funds as far as possible to manage their own internal affairs. All the funds have rules.

The next point raised by the honourable member was what happened to the contributors' funds in the event of deregistration The answer is that it depends on the circumstances of the deregistration. This Bill makes provision for certain funds which have branches interstate to register separately in each State, and there are provisions for the State branches of funds which are on separate registration to be deregistered, and no doubt that is the particular circumstance about which the honourable member is thinking. In all these cases and in the event of deregistration they would be deregistered because they were not operating economically and efficiently within that State. They would all have been heavily subsidised by the contributors of the parent organisation of the State and in the event of that fund being deregistered any funds available in it would be paid back to the parent organisation in the State. But with regard to deregistration in general or dissolution, all of the funds have arrangements which ensure that the interests of contributors are protected and that any surplus funds go to the people who have provided such surplus. This is a condition of registration.

Clauses agreed to.

Proposed new clause 23a.

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