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Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Page: 10509

Health and Ageing

(Question No. 1120)


Ms O'Dwyer asked the Minister for Health, in writing, on 28 June 2012:

(1) In respect of applications made to the Department of Health and Ageing for an exemption under section 19AB(3) of the Health Insurance Act 1973, in the last twelve months (a) how many have been made, (b) how many have been approved, and (c) how much time, on average, has it taken to assess an application.

(2) On what basis was the conclusion reached that 'migration', for the purposes of clause 5.6 of the Health Insurance Act Section 19AB Guidelines, did not refer to the movement of persons from one country to another.

(3) Does she, or her delegate, seek legal advice when considering an application under section 19AB(3) of the Health Insurance Act 1973.

(4) Does she, or her delegate, seek legal advice when applying clause 5.6 of the Health Insurance Act Section 19AB Guidelines to an application under section 19AB(3) of the Health Insurance Act 1973; if not, why not.

(5) Has she, or her delegate, ever sought legal advice on the meaning of the word 'migration' in clause 5.6 of the Health Insurance Act Section 19AB Guidelines.

(6) Has she, or her delegate, ever discussed with the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship or the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, application of the Health Insurance Act Section 19AB Guidelines; if not, why not.

(7) Is it a fact that section 19AB of the Health Insurance Act 1973 operates to grant spouses of those on the Skilled Occupation List more favourable employment opportunities if their partner is a foreign citizen migrating to Australia, as opposed to an expatriate returning to Australia; if so, why.

(8) Can she confirm whether the Government intends to amend elements of the Health Insurance Act Section 19AB Guidelines.


Ms Plibersek: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) (a) During the period 1 June 2011 to 31 May 2012 the Department of Health and Ageing (the Department) received 8,188 applications for exemptions under section 19AB(3) of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (the Act).

(b) During this period, the Department granted 7,004 exemptions under section 19AB(3) of the Act.

(c) As each application for an exemption under section 19AB(3) of the Act is assessed individually and in accordance with the provisions set out within the Section 19AB Guidelines, the Department does not keep statistics on the average processing times for exemptions. However all exemption applications have been processed within the statutory timeframe of 28 days from the date that the application is received by the Department.

(2) For the purpose of assessing applications for exemptions under the spousal provisions of clause 5.6 of the Guidelines for section 19AB of the Act, only those applicants who are the spouses of certain types of migrants (i.e. migrants skilled in occupations on the Migration Occupations Demand/Skilled Occupation List) may be assessed under the spousal provision (along with the spouses of medical practitioners not subject to 19AB or who have been granted an exemption). Accordingly, when assessing applications for exemptions under the spousal provisions, persons who have not been granted a general skilled migration Visa by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship are not considered to have migrated to Australia.

(3) Applications for exemptions under section 19AB(3) of the Act are assessed by the Minister for Health's delegate. The Minister's delegate may seek legal advice to assist in the assessment of applications for an exemption under section 19AB(3) of the Act where necessary.

(4) Applications for exemptions under the spousal provisions of clause 5.6 of the Section 19AB Guidelines are assessed by the Minister's delegate at the Department. The Minister's delegate may seek legal advice to assist in the assessment of applications for an exemption under Clause 5.6 where necessary.

(5) Yes.

(6) Yes.

(7) No

(8) The Section 19AB Guidelines are currently being reviewed by the Department.