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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 822

Mr SPENDER(11.06) —I wish to say something about the question of employment in the industry. As matters presently stand, we have what has been recognised as a health insurance industry. The Minister for Health will no doubt be familiar with the background of the industry and how it has grown up. He will probably also be familiar with some litigation which has been going on for about 10 years in the health insurance industry involving, amongst others, the Federated Clerks Union and, as well, the Australian Insurance Employees Union.

If the Minister has caused his Department to examine the matter, he will find-I speak from memory, not from any note that I have in front in me-that in Victoria and New South Wales, in particular in friendly societies and, of course, in registered health funds as well, a very large proportion of the employees are engaged in the business of what is called the medical insurance industry. I am sure the Minister will have had representations made to him by the AIEU and most certainly by the Federated Clerks Union concerning the consequences to employment in the health insurance industry as it is now comprised. Whilst in the health insurance industry, and in particular in the friendly societies, there are cases where dual functions are exercised, that is, where an employee exercises a function in relation to what is purely health insurance and also in relation to other matters which have traditionally been within the province of friendly societies, there is a fairly high amount of demarcation. One could say that a large proportion of employees are engaged simply in health insurance work as it is now set up.

I therefore ask the Minister whether he can tell us what are the estimates that have been put to him, in particular by the Federated Clerks Union, as to loss of employment in the health insurance industry on the basis that the private funds are excluded in the manner in which this legislation would exclude them. These details will be known to the Minister. He will have information about the industry. Indeed, I have some passing aquaintance with it myself. I would be very glad if he could tell us what the Department has told him and what the Federated Clerks Union and the AIEU, if it has come to see him, have told him about loss of employment in the industry.