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Wednesday, 19 September 2001
Page: 31057

Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (10:12 AM) —I must say that the expedition with which this bill has proceeded through the Main Committee is proof positive that members of parliament are certainly not paid by the word. The Health and Other Services (Compensation) Legislation Amendment Bill 2001 proposes—

Honourable members interjecting—

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl)—The parliamentary secretary will ignore the interjections.

Mr SLIPPER —I thank my colleagues for their good-natured approach to this legislation. This bill proposes to amend the Health and Other Services (Compensation) Care Charges Act 1995. Acts were passed to ensure that when plaintiffs went to court to recover damages for personal injuries they would repay to the Commonwealth the cost of any Medicare and residential care benefits received because of the injuries.

As has been already outlined, the bill arises from a review of the acts undertaken for the government by the former Commissioner for Superannuation, Mr George Pooley. Mr Pooley found that the compensation recovery program covered by the acts has proven cumbersome and burdensome for all parties. He made a number of recommendations to improve these processes. These new arrangements will be simpler, more efficient and will keep impositions on claimants to a minimum. Simpler claiming and administration processes will allow the speedier release of final compensation settlements or judgments and reduce the worry and red tape for recipients and their families.

Before I conclude, I want to refer to some remarks made by the honourable member for Jagajaga in her contribution. She asked if the Health Insurance Commission could report on the implementation of, and the savings achieved from, this measure in its annual report. I have been informed that the minister would be happy for this information to be made available, so I ask the opposition whip to convey that message to the member for Jagajaga—unless she picks it up during her daily reading of the Hansard record. I thank the honourable members for their support for these important amendments to the Health and Other Services (Compensation) Act 1995 and to the Health and Other Services (Compensation) Care Charges Act 1995. I commend the Health and Other Services (Compensation) Legislation Amendment Bill 2001 to the chamber.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

Ordered that the bill be reported to the House without amendment.