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Thursday, 11 June 1970

Dr KLUGMAN (Prospect) - The reason for the Opposition moving the amendment in the first instance and, 1 take it, the reason why the Senate accepted the amendment, was that the provision refers to cases where workers compensation claims, third party claims or cases of that nature have arisen. It also refers to cases where somebody has been injured and medical expenses have been incurred. In the case of an actual claim for damages being successful, I assume that in all cases there would be a statement by the court as to what proportion of the damages awarded would be in settlement for medical expenses. But in the case of a claim being settled this is not clear. An amount of, say, $1,000 may be awarded to. the claimant. It is then open to dispute whether this was in acceptance of part of the injury, all of the injury, pain and suffering, or one of the other issues that may have been involved. It may be in settlement of some damage to material property (bar could have been involved. Under the present legislation it is up to the Minister to decide. Section 21 (5.) provides:

For the purpose of this section, the Minister may determine that (he whole or a specified part of a payment in settlement of a claim for compensation or damages shall be regarded as being in respect of" medical expenses incurred by a contributor.

In some cases medical expenses can of course be a very large amount. They could amount to some thousands of dollars. Under the present legislation the amount that would have to be refunded may also be very significant because if the claim is covered by medical benefits and hospital contribution fund returns, the total cost to the patient may be relatively small - $5 or a little over. But if the claim is accepted as having been covered by workers compensation or third party insurance the person is not entitled to the refund, ft will therefore be necessary for that person to pay a very large amount of money to the hospital and to the medical attendants. We therefore feel that there should be some method of appealing against the Minister's decision, if, for example, the whole amount of the money was intended for compensation for the actual medical expenses incurred and none of it was for pain and suffering or other expenses incurred. We have therefore moved this amendment:

That there shall be a right of appeal on the determination of the Minister under the last preceding sub-section by a contributor to the jurisdiction which determined or would have otherwise heard his claim tor compensation or damage. I cannot see the argument of the Minister that it is not clear as to which jurisdiction it would be, because if a cl'aim is settled after it was originally instituted, surely it must be put before a certain jurisdiction. I do not know the exact procedure. If we want to persist with the amendment do we vote against the motion by the Minister for the disagreement and at the same time foreshadow that if that motion is defeated we would move an amendment, or does it become automatic? Could 1 have some guidance on this point? Is there any need to foreshadow the amendment?

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - There is no need to foreshadow the amendment.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment disagreed to.

Motion (by Dr Forbes) proposed:

That amendments Nos 4, 5, 6 and 7 be agreed to.

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