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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 845


Mr HODGMAN(1.40 a.m.) —My remarks in response to the two doctors, the honourable member for Burke (Dr Theophanous) and the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham), will be short and to the point. I remind them that this is Canberra, it is not Moscow, and I ask them to look at proposed section 126, as it will be if this clause is passed.


Mr Cunningham —Mr Deputy Chairman, I raise a point of order. The honourable member is reflecting on other members of the House by referring to issues in Moscow when we are dealing with a Medicare Bill. I ask you to bring him back to the clause of the Bill we are discussing.


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Rocher) —Order! I ask the honourable member for Denison to address himself to clause 57, which, in general terms, deals with prohibition of medical insurance.


Mr HODGMAN —Thank you for that ruling, Mr Deputy Chairman. Both honourable members denied, by implication, although I must say in fairness that the honourable member for Burke was slightly more frank, that this is a socialist measure. The honourable member for Capricornia has said that it is a monopolistic measure but it is not a socialist measure; it is not a nationalisation measure. I ask the Minister for Health-I doubt very much whether he will tell us-under what constitutional head of power he claims the right to bring in this legislation? I draw to the Minister's attention what to a lawyer would have to be one of the most extraordinary provisions ever written into any Bill brought through this Parliament. I refer specifically to proposed section 126 (6), in which the Government has the audacity to tell the High Court of Australia:

In this section, 'insurance' means insurance to which paragraph 51 (xiv) of the Constitution is applicable.

Let me tell the Minister that the High Court of Australia will make up its mind whether or not that is so. If it does apply and if the Minister is relying on section 51 (xiv), will he tell me what he will do in relation to State insurance and State insurance extending beyond the limit of the States concerned? Section 51 (xiv), whether the Minister has looked at it or not, does not just say ' insurance'.

It states:

Insurance, other than State insurance; also State insurance extending beyond the limits of the States concerned:


Mr Groom —Is it section 29?


Mr HODGMAN —As the honourable member for Braddon points out, it is not an exclusive power. The next question I ask the Minister is this: Why did he not base his legislation on section 51 (xxiiia), which is the section to which the honourable member for Capricornia referred? It was introduced in 1946 but the Minister has not based the legislation on that section. Thirdly, I read into Hansard a clause which will go down in history as one of the most insane pieces of legislation ever brought in by any government in the Western world. Proposed new section 126 (2) states:

Where there is a contract of insurance (whether made before or after the commencement of this section)--

So it is retrospective, which of course we have come to expect from a socialist government-

under which the insurer is liable to indemnify a person in respect of loss arising out of the incurring by that person of liability to pay medical expenses in respect of the rendering in Australia of a professional service--

Honourable members should listen to this-

there is an implied condition in the contract that the insurer is not liable . . .

The Government has legislated that black is white. It makes a nonsense of the statute. It is so committed to its socialist ideology that it is prepared to put a nonsense like this into the laws of Australia. Lastly, I ask the Government to look at proposed new section 126 (3), which states:

''(3) Where-

. . . .

(b) a contract of insurance contains a term that purports to substitute, or has the effect of substituting provisions of the law of some other country or of a State or Territory for all or any of the provisions of this section,

this section applies to the contract notwithstanding that term.

What does that mean? It means that the Government uses section 109 of the Constitution to override and trample on every single piece of State and Territory legislation currently on the statute books in this country. The Government is not merely socialist, it is centralist, and it is condemned because what it is doing is wrong. Tonight the Government has the numbers, but on the Federal election day, when it is next forced to the people, it will wish to hell that it had never brought in this wretched, rotten, socialist legislation.

Question put:

That the clause be agreed to.