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Thursday, 15 October 1964


Mr Collard d asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -

1.   Does the Commonwealth Government offer a reward for the discovery of particular types of minerals or other substances?

2.   If so, what are these minerals, and what is the amount of the reward in each case?

3.   Must the deposit be of at least a minimum size?

4.   How many rewards have been paid over the past five years, and in respect of what types of minerals were the rewards paid?


Mr Fairbairn - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows - 1-3. The Commonwealth Government does not at present offer any monetary reward for the discovery of minerals. However, rewards have been offered in the past for the discovery of certain minerals.

In 1920 the Commonwealth offered a reward of £10,000 for the discovery of petroleum in commercial quantities in Australia. The offer was increased to £50,000 later the same year and was withdrawn in 1925. However, no reward was ever made.

At one stage in its operations the Australian Aluminium Production Commission sought to encourage the search for bauxite by a policy of rewards.

In 1948 the Government introduced rewards for discoveries of uranium ore, the maximum reward being fixed at £25,000. This offer to pay rewards was liberalized in 1953, but was withdrawn in respect of discoveries made after 31st March 1961. Rewards totalling £112,750 have been paid for discoveries of uranium, the maximum reward of £25,000 being paid twice - in respect of the discoveries at Rum Jungle and Mary Kathleen.

4.   In the three years to 30th June 1962 eight rewards totalling £43,350 were paid for discoveries of uranium; no rewards have been paid since then.

Inquiries under National Health Act. (Question No. 598.)


Mr Daly y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -

1.   What is the reason for withholding the names of medical practitoners and chemists who have been the subject of inquiry under the National Health Act and have been subsequently found guilty and penalised?

2.   Why should these persons receive different consideration from that given to people listed as, say, tax evaders? 3.Is there any reason why the public and the medical profession should not know of the offenders?


Mr Swartz - The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -

Investigations conducted by my Department in connection with the National Health Act fall into two categories - firstly, investigations of suspected frauds and other serious infringements that are properly dealt with by prosecution in the Courts and, secondly, investigations of any conduct of medical practitioners and chemists that may be regarded as abuse of the principles of the Pensioner Medical Service or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Cases of this latter nature are referred to the Medical Services Committees of Inquiry and the Pharmaceutical Services Committees of Inquiry respectively.

In cases referred to these Committees of Inquiry, the degree of abuse varies considerably and of course the severity of the action taken as a result of the findings of the Committees of Inquiry varies accordingly.

Doctors are free to attend patients and write prescriptions in accordance with their own judgment, but it is an inherent principle of the Pensioner Medical Service and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that the Commonwealth should meet only the cost of what is considered reasonable. Where a doctor's claims in respect of medical services are considered excessive, part of the claims may be disallowed following a report by a Committee of Inquiry. Similarly, in the case of excessive or wrongful prescribing, the doctor can be called on, following a report by a Committee of Inquiry, to repay the cost of the excessive or wrongful prescribing.

The Committee of Inquiry cases do not of themselves involve prosecution and it would be most improper in many instances to make public the names of the doctors or chemists concerned. In practice, the Committees sometimes recommend that the doctor or chemist concerned be reprimanded and that notice of the reprimand be published in the Commonwealth Gazette. Where I have approved a Committee's findings in those circumstances, publication has followed. In other cases, the Committees make no such recommendation for publication in submitting their findings and I have consistently followed the long-established practice of the non-publication of the names in these cases.

It must be clearly understood by the honorable member that the functions of the Medical and Pharmaceutical Services Committees of Inquiry are to inquire into and report to the Minister or the Director-General of Health in respect of the services or conduct of medical practitioners or approved pharmaceutical chemists. The Committees are not courts and do not impose fines or penalties.







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