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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2281


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(8.26) —I can understand the good senator believing that the recovery of $752,382 from fraud and overservicing from 1 July to 31 March has not been considerably cost effective, but I remind her that this is only the start of a program to see whether we cannot do something about fraud and overservicing. I would have thought that the recovery of that amount of money from four doctors indicated that we are well on the track to doing that. It is a five-year program to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this system. I think that to judge it on this one year's situation is not a very reliable method of judging it. I believe the Department is always trying to get more efficient ways of doing this. If the honourable senator is suggesting that it is not worth while chasing $752,382 from four doctors because it costs a few dollars more than that to collect it, I suggest that she think of the consequences of not seeking to do so-not attempting to deal with fraud and overservicing-and the consequences of doctors having the capacity to do that with the absolute certainty that no one will do anything about it. I think that such a situation would be fairly horrific for the Budget and for the health expenditure of this country.