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Thursday, 13 October 1955

Sir EARLE PAGE (Cowper) (Minister for Health) .- The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) has given us this morning a. typical example of pure exhibitionism, which is, I suppose, inseparable from the fact that he is a trained journalist who once had to seize every opportunity to get in first with the news, whether it was true or otherwise. During the last few months we have had from the honorable member for Eden-Monaro a demonstration of the acme of ignorance, on the occasion when the honorable member submitted to this House a proposal for discussion as a matter of urgent public importance in respect of the Salk vaccine, simply because of claims made in newspapers at the time regarding that vaccine. Now, everybody in Australia agrees that I was right in the attitude that I adopted in regard to that matter. Similarly, we had another example of the honorable member's exhibitionism when he took it upon himself to desert every one of his colleagues on both sides of the House who had sat as judges in connexion with a matter of privilege. The honorable member decided, after having himself tried the case as a judge here, and found the persons concerned guilty, that he was the only man in the House who had a conscience. It was pure exhibitionism. Again we see, in connexion with this matter to-day, the very acme of hypocrisy.. The honorable gentleman has been telling us, with crocodile tears streaming down his face, that what he would do would be to give these medical benefits not merely to pensioners who have more than £15 a week, but to give them also to everybody in the community. But Labour governments were in office in the federal sphere for some twenty years since federation, and not once did any Labour government suggest a system of free medical practitioner service, even for pensioners. Yet now the honorable member, a Labour party supporter, sheds crocodile tears about the pensioners. While the Labour Government that he supported was in office he never raised his voice in this chamber on behalf of the provision of free medical treatment for pensioners. I know that that is so, because I have been here all the time that he has been here. Neither did any one of his colleagues ever raise his voice in that regard. But now, the honorable member goes off halfcocked because he has seen a statement in the press that I was forced to make because of a false report in one journal, which was apparently obtained from some midnight reveller of one of the parties in this House. I had to put the thing right in the public mind, instead of waiting, as I was trying to do, for the proper time at which it should have been put to the public, which will be when the bill to deal with the whole question of amending the National Health Act, which I have foreshadowed, is before the House. On that occasion the honorable member for Eden-Monaro would have enough information before him on the matter to be in a position to talk about it. But now he rushes in, as he did in the case of the Salk vaccine and in the privilege case. As long as there is plenty of newspaper publicity to be had he is right on the ball straight away, with the idea of making capital out of the misery of people generally.

Sir EARLE PAGE - "We on this side of the House have always been concerned with-

Opposition members interjecting,

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! The House will come to order or I shall strictly apply the Standing Orders.

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