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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 809


Mrs DARLING(9.34) —Briefly I want to speak very strongly in support of this amendment. It is about time some money was put forward to help those who are chronically ill and who have been carrying a very heavy burden in past years . I am fascinated by some of the comments made by members of the Opposition. They really should get their act together. The honourable member for Bradfield ( Mr Connolly) said that people are getting something for nothing. But many of his colleagues have been saying that the amount the Government is collecting from the levy is too much. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Carlton) said that he does not like intervention by government into medical services but I remember that when he was Minister for Health he absolutely loved intervention. In fact, he intervened to the detriment of all pensioners by bringing in a very confusing number of prescription forms which caused trauma and which were against the interests of those people.


Mr Connolly —Mr Chairman, I take a point of order. I ask that the honourable member be brought back to the clause.


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Rocher) —I think that the honourable member for Lilley has made a fair enough debating point. As long as she does not dwell on it too long she is in order.


Mrs DARLING —It is my opinion that if members of the Opposition can bring forward a point and talk about it at length, as the honourable member for Mackellar did, members of the Government should be able to answer it. My point is just as relevant. I thought the point brought up by the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Free) was relevant. I do not like the ruling you just made, Mr Deputy Chairman. I would dissent from it.


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —If the honourable member wishes to dissent from my ruling she may do so. If she wants to reflect on the Chair I remind her that she might very well be in the same position herself. I ask her to reconsider that remark.


Mrs DARLING —I certainly do not wish to put you into an awkward position, Mr Deputy Chairman. I will not continue with that point but I certainly imagine that you will accept that I can answer things which are brought up within this debate.


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —I say again to the honourable member for Lilley that I did rule in her favour on the last point of order. She may proceed.


Mrs DARLING —Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. A number of Opposition members were also concerned about the cost of bringing in such an amendment in the interests of people. But I point out that again they are not being consistent when one considers that it would cost $30m extra per annum if we were to introduce Medicare and administer it through the private funds which the Opposition members have persistently called for. In other words, they do not mind spending money. They do not mind adding a couple of billion dollars more to a deficit but what they do not like is spending it in the interests of people in very sound legislation such as this. I commend the Minister for Health (Dr Blewett) for his forethought, ability and compassion in bringing forward this amendment. I thoroughly support it.