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Thursday, 22 September 1983
Page: 1182


Mr CARLTON(3.52) —The Opposition welcomes the Government's acceptance of these amendments but, of course, notes that these amendments moved by the Opposition in the Senate under the direction of my colleague Senator Baume and passed by the Senate, really are only nibbling at the edges of this health nationalisation measure. The Minister for Health (Dr Blewet) made that perfectly clear in his remarks to the House today. We are pleased with the minor concessions which have been gained by the Senate because they ease the burden on some of the organistions that will suffer under the Medicare arrangements. I make it perfectly clear, however, that the commitments made by the Australian Democrats to support substantial amendment in the Senate to save the jobs of 5, 000 health insurance workers were not met. The Democrats did not meet the terms of their orginal public statement with Senator Harradine and me. They supported only minor amendments. They made their position clear before the debate started, so that the Opposition's role in the Senate was to try to secure whatever minor amendments might be possible, given the limited support of the Australian Democrats.

The Health Legislation Amendment Bill, with these amendments, will go back to the Senate virtually intact. The statements made by me in opposition to the Bill in this House until eight minutes past three on Thursday morning of last week stand on the record. It was necessary to have a complete debate on this matter against the will of the Government. It forced us to go through the night on a measure which it said was one of its most important pieces of legislation. It apparently feared that if the debate continued until the following day, Thursday , we would be on air and people would hear more of our arguments publicly. But I point out to the Committee that these arguments are in the record in both the House of Representatives and the Senate Hansards, and can be followed by anybody who wishes to study them. We are in agreement with the acceptance by the House of these amendments secured by the Opposition in the Senate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Resolution reported; report adopted.