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Wednesday, 13 May 1970

The CHAIRMAN - There is no valid point of order. It is a decision of the House governing the allotment of time for the Committee stage. At the moment we are dealing with clause 19.

Mr Hayden - Also on a point of order, Mr Chairman. We have not agreed to this. Quite frankly we come to a point of eruption on this procedure. If the honourable member for Barton has some technical questions he wishes to raise I think it is in the interests of the general community that he should be allowed io Jo so. Mr Chairman, the Minister will remember - and I put this to you in support of my claim - that the legislation introduced before the last election covering subsidised contributions for low income earners ran into trouble because not enough consideration had been given to the movements in the cost of living reflected in wage increases. The honourable member for Barton putting forward a perfectly legitimate point. The Australian community, and especially the people who are to administer this Bill, should be allowed lo have some explanation of technical definitions.

The CHAIRMAN - There is no substance in the point of order raised by the honourable member. The guillotine has been agreed to.

Mr Hayden - It has not been agreed to. It has been imposed on us.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The allocation of the time for the discussion of this National Health Bill in the Committee stage was a decision of the House, and it is not for the Chair to question or alter a decision of the House.

Mr Hayden - Then I propose to move that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Barton raising the queries he wishes to raise.

The CHAIRMAN - The suspension of Standing Orders cannot be moved in the Committee stage.

Mr Hayden - Surely it is the duty of the House, which should transcend everything else, to seriously consider-

The CHAIRMAN - We are not in the House; we are in Committee.

Mr Hayden - This seems to be legal fiction to an ordinary person. Surely we have an obligation to iron these questions out. If there are any weaknesses in the legislation it is in the interests of the Minister as much as anyone else to have these questions raised so that his advisers can inform him.

Dr FORBES - I move:

In proposed section 29a, omit sub-section (2.), insert the following sub-sections: "'(2.) Each Committee shall consist of five medical practitioners appointed by the Minister in accordance with section twenty-nine ba of this Act. " '(2a.) The exercise or performance of the powers or functions of a committee is not affected by reason only of there being a vacancy or vacancies in the membership of the Committee.'"

The Bill provides that the Specialist Recognition Advisory Committee and the Specialist Recognition Appeal Committee will comprise medical practitioners appointed by the Minister for Health from the panel of names supplied by the Australian Medical Association. This provision was proposed in accordance with the longstanding arrangement under which the Australian Medical Association confers where necessary with the specialist bodies in the profession in relation to matters such as this where a number of specialist groups in the profession would need to be consulted. We had in mind that the end point of the Australian Medical Association's consultations with its specialist groups would be the submission of a panel of names to the Minister from which the Minister would appoint committees representative of the various specialist groups whose advice would be desired. However, the Australian Medical Association has now advised that in this instance it believes that it would be more appropriate for the Minister to make direct approaches to the colleges comprising the specialist groups concerned. From the panels of names the Minister will nominate the recognition committees and the appeal committees whose advice will form the basis of the listing of specialists for the purpose of the National Health Act. The Government accepts this point of view, which was also presented by the Royal Australian College of Genera! Practitioners. The amendment as circulated proposes the rewording of the clause so that the committees will be appointed in the manner proposed by the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

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