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Tuesday, 9 April 1946

Mr MENZIES (Kooyong) (Leader of the Opposition) (12:20 PM) . - I move -

That, in proposed new paragraph (xxiii.a.). after the word " services " the following words and brackets be inserted: - " (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription)".

In my earlier remarks on the bill I advanced my reasons for thinking that the expression "medical and dental services " could very well support a proposal for the nationalization of the medical and dental professions. . I do not want to repeat the reasons which I then gave, but as the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), in his reply, did not add anything to what he had said in his second-reading speech I wish the position to 'be made quite clear. The matter could easily be put beyond question. In my amendment I have taken the liberty of borrowing a form of words in the Constitution Alteration (Industrial Employment) Bill. In that measure, the expression used is, " Terms and conditions of employment in industry but - not so as to authorize any form of industrial conscription". Although we have heard very little about it, I have no doubt that those words were put in that bill in order to allay any fears that a broad, power might be used to produce conscription of a form to which the Government and its supporters object. T have merely adapted the same language to this bill. I would never object to medical and dental services being provided for the people under some proper government scheme. I have no objection to the._ Commonwealth having power to make proper laws in relation to medical and dental services, but so long as there is doubt - and I entertain grave doubts on the matter - as to whether that- power does not authorize the nationalization of these two professions, their members are entitled to be protected against conscription just as are industrial workers under the bill I have mentioned. This, is a perfectly fair proposition: If industrial workers are to be put beyond the danger of industrial conscription, then what is good for them should be good for professional workers also.

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