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Thursday, 12 November 1959

Dr DONALD CAMERON (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) .- I do not intend to detain the committee very long on this clause, but there are one or two things I think I should say about it. First of all, reference has been made to the legitimate interests of the chemists and to the fact that they should obtain a fair price for their services. Of course the chemists have legitimate interests, and of course the Government is concerned to see that those interests are preserved. It is not a policy of the Government to destroy the legitimate trade or interests of any section of the community. I have been engaged in lengthy discussion with the executive of the Pharmaceutical Guild, and I think I can claim that we stand on terms of mutual respect for each other. I have been asked whether these negotiations are proceeding on a basis which will, in plain terms, give the chemists a fair deal. The reply is, " Yes ". They are proceeding by direct negotiation between the guild and myself, or my officers, as requested by the guild. I could say many things about the points that have been raised, but the real subject for discussion under this clause is the imposition of a charge for pharmaceutical benefits. I forbear to go into a long explanation of the points raised by the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), but perhaps I could say briefly that in the first instance the guild says that the chemists may make a charge. If it does not say that, the other provision that they could not make a charge would stand, and the old provision is to limit the charge to 5s. It is fairly plain, but like all legal expressions it takes a lot of words to say it.

The only other thing I want to say is that it is not in the interests of the public or of any member of the public that a social welfare scheme - and this is one - should expand with no stability and no control. That is the crux of the matter. That is the reason why the Government has introduced this scheme and it is the reason why the Government cannot accept the amendment.

Question put -

That the section proposed to be omitted (Mr. Allan Frasers amendment) stand part of the clause.

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