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Thursday, 8 August 1946


Mr BARNARD (Bass) (1:18 AM) .Despite the hour, I must say a word or two about this bill. I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) that it is a most welcome measure. For some years now I have been chairman of the Social Security Committee, which has taken a keen interest in medical and health services for the people. The battle against the tuberculosis scourge is one aspect of those services. Positive recommendations were made by the committee for the treatment and care of tuberculosis sufferers. The objective of the recommendations was their ultimate cure. The medical profession showed the unanimity on the matter of tuberculosis that was absent from their attitude towards other aspects of medical and health services that could be brought about in this country. While I was overseas a year or two ago, I came in contact with men who were able to speak with authority about the treatment of tuberculosis in the United States of America and Canada. In both countries I found that the approach to the subject was similar to that in Australia, and was in agreement with the recommendations of the Social Security Committee. The treatment of tuberculosis is largely a combination of economics, and education. If we can educate the- people to have tuberculosis treated in its early stages, and if we also provide for the economic needs of the patient and his or her dependants, there are bright prospects of a cure being effected. That means, as the honorable member for Parramatta has pointed out, a great saving of lives and a reduction of suffering.. It also means the restoration, as economic units in the community, of the persons whose lives would otherwise be shortened by this dread disease. It may appear that a considerable sum is to be expended on the treatment of tuberculosis, but the result of that expenditure will ultimately be to the advantage of the community. Moreover, the Government will be re- _ lieved of financial commitments in respect of invalid pensions because it will bring back into the community life of the nation people who otherwise would remain pensioners. Their families will be happier, and there will be advantages all round. This bill is only the first step in the treatment of this disease, but 1 am glad that the Government has decided to take it. When the Social Security Committee submitted its recommendations to the Government it knew that many difficulties, including certain constitutional difficulties, lay ahead. The committee had to decide on some equitable basis on which a distinction could be made between tuberculosis patients and other sufferers. Finally, a decision was made, and the Government has accepted the recommendation of the committee, which is embodied in this legislation. I regard this bill as one of the most important pieces of social legislation that has been introduced during the life of this Parliament. I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that the conquest of this dread disease will make for a healthier and happier community, and therefore I give my blessing to the bill.







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