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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2282


Senator WALTERS(8.28) —The Minister is quite well aware of my views on fraud and overservicing. I will not be intimidated by him saying that I suggested that it is all too expensive and should not be done. I have not suggested that in any way. There is no point in his putting words into my mouth with the intention that I will not ask questions about it, because it certainly will not work with me. He should have woken up to that fact a long time ago. Both of us have been members of this Parliament for some time.


Senator Chaney —I think he must be a slow learner.


Senator WALTERS —I think he might be a slow learner. So there is not much point in his trying that line. Perhaps he would find a new line interesting or amusing . He will remember that on 9 May during the medical services debate he told this chamber that the Australian Labor Party did not doctor-bash. The Minister looks very pathetic lying there in his chair, but he did say that it was just nonsense for Senator Peter Baume to make accusations that the Government had an ideology of hatred against the medical profession, that it indulged in doctor-bashing all the time and that it was obsessed with the medical profession in some way. I interjected and said:

Would you like a few quotes?

The Minister said it was all done in the heat of the moment.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Elstob) —Order! I think the honourable senator should come back to the subject of the Bill.


Senator WALTERS —I am just about to ask the question. I was wondering whether Senator Grimes could tell me the cost of the composition of a song that was printed and evidently handed around in a bus. I wish to read from a paper the extract referring to it. The article is entitled 'Victory Song Shocks Ministers' . The article stated:

It was the night Federal Health Minister Dr Neil Blewett had been waiting for.

The scene could well have been a busload of school kids singing their favourite ditty slamming the teachers.

But despite the school bus sign, the passengers were dressed in dinner suits.

And the song they were singing wasn't a school song but one of Medicare victory .

It was a big night for Dr Blewett.

After a day of discussions at a Health Minister's conference in Melbourne he was taking out the State Ministers and Directors-General for a night on the town .

And what better place to choose than a theatre restaurant called-The Last Laugh .

It was certainly the night Dr Blewett was going to have the last laugh over Medicare.

On the bus journey back to the palatial Windsor Hotel, Dr Blewett's press secretary went around handing song sheets to each of the ministers.


Senator Gareth Evans —Mr Temporary Chairman, I take a point of order. This is a grotesque travesty of the proceedings of this Parliament. There is no question of this article having any relationship to anything in the Estimates, despite the spurious reference to the cost of the ditty with which Senator Walters began her current contribution to this debate. Might I urge, in the interests both of our sanity and the expeditious proceedings in this place, that you bring her to order.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Senator Walters, you must bring in the question of cost.


Senator WALTERS —I have, Mr Temporary Chairman. I asked whether a payment was made to the composer of the ditty that I am about to read. Indeed, the Attorney- General, Senator Gareth Evans, may try the best he can to stop me. I am asking if payment was given for the composition and printing of this song. I think that is a legitimate question. I will not go on because obviously that general news is known at least to Senator Evans and, I am quite sure at this stage, to the Minister. I will read the ditty that was sung in that bus.


Senator Gareth Evans —Whatever turns you on.


Senator WALTERS —Yes, it certainly does.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Order! I think the Minister fully understands the question. If the honourable senator wishes she may ask another one.


Senator WALTERS —I am asking about the cost of this one. I have not indicated which one it is yet. The ditty begins:

Oh AMA

Oh AMA

However green your bank notes-


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —I believe, Senator Walters, that you are overstepping my ruling. I have asked you to keep to the Estimates. You have indicated the song and I think that the Minister can quite adequately answer your question.


Senator WALTERS —Unless the Minister was on the bus that night I do not see how he would be aware of this song. Would you give me permission to indicate the song to the Minister? I am asking whether any cost was involved in its being printed and composed. Would it be easier if I had it incorporated in Hansard? Would that please you?