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Thursday, 14 May 1970

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member is now getting outside the ambit of a debate on the motion for the third reading. This debate is limited to the contents of the Bill and its Schedule.

Mr HAYDEN - I agree. I was only making the point that we need standing committees. This is the only way to facilitate the work of Parliament. The Bill! will only prop up in the short term the structure of health insurance in the community. It will not rectify the problems that exist. No effective measures have been taken to overcome the waste caused by unnecesary competition and the proliferation of private health insurance schemes. Nor have adequate safeguards been built in to ensure the efficient operation of these schemes. Even the amendment which proposes to give to the Minister power - not in precise terms - to restrict management costs to a proportion of contribution income is fairly widely drafted. This is simply because it is not possible to do otherwise owing to the greater inefficiency of some funds compared to the overall inefficiency of the system and the resulting high administrative costs which those funds will incur. In the long run it is the contributor who will have to pay for the extremely expensive nature of this scheme - a condition which is being perpetuated. The Minister will be well aware of this because the Nimmo Committee's report, with which he is conversant, reads:

From the contributor's point of view the greatest weakness in the medical benefits scheme is the varying and unpredictable gap between fees charged and rebates received.

Referring to this gap the Committee continued:

They are reflected in an extreme way-

Mr Buchanan - I rise to order. I submit that the honourable member is getting well away from the limitations of debate on the third reading.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Nimmo Committee's report is relevant to the Bill.

Mr HAYDEN - The Nimmo Committee added that the fundamental deficiency in the medical benefit scheme was the absence of an appropriate relationship between doctors' fees and medical benefits available. We are sure that the common fee will be the nostrum in this case. This Bill has been the great confidence trick of the century on the part of the Government. Most people did not understand the careful but deceptive way in which the Government worded its election promise, namely, that the rebate would be related to the common fee. For instance, there were statements in the Press indicating that even experienced journalists were under such an impression.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The time allotted for the remaining stage of the Bill has expired. The question now is: That the Bill be now read a third time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

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