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Thursday, 11 June 1970

Dr JENKINS (Scullin) - I do not want to delay the Committee in discussing these amendments. After all these four have been agreed to. The provision relating to the term of appointment of a member of the Specialist Recognition Advisory Committee and Specialist Recognition Appeal Committee is quite sensible because it exists for a set period of 3 years and provides for the removal of a member earlier if necessary. These committees may be formed from nominees from a variety of bodies who have an interest in the health scheme. Throughout our health services we have a number of such committees. One of the greatest dangers is that many of these committees members have held appointments from time immemorial. The trouble is that they do become remote from the immediate problems they are supposed to be dealing with. They are set up in a special position and feel that they have real perogatives In fact they have become as remote as the stars .from the real needs of the functioning of the committee. The Australian Labor Party welcomes this limitation and this regular review which will be carried out. The other recommendations will have some force.

Amendment No. 7 is not in the same generic group of amendments because the last amendment deals with a review of the agreement with the Australian Medical Association in relation to pensioner medical services. One might' question at times whether the Australian Medical Association will effectively represent the general practitioner who carries out this agreement because it is only this section of the pensioner medical service which is provided at the moment. A regular review is needed because of changing conditions, and some of those changing conditions will be that no longer will honorary services exist at many of our government hospitals. The Australian Medical Association, many of the colleges concerned with specialists, and universities have indicated that they want to see the honorary system go. Hospital administrators have said the same thing. The need will develop for more reviews of this particular service, lt seems to be a sensible provision that a review should take place at least once every 2 years.

Amendments agreed to.

Dr FORBES(Barker- Minister for Health) [5.481-1 move:

That amendment No. 8 be disagreed to.

The amendment provides for an. appeal against the disallowance by the Minister of a claim by a medical practitioner in respect of services rendered to pensioners under the pensioner medical service. In disallowing a claim the Minister acts in accordance with the report of a committee of inquiry constituted by medical practitioners. In making the report the committee considers whether the number of services given were appropriate having regard to generally accepted medical standards of treatment. The basis of its investigation is, therefore, medical and not legal. An appeal to a court from the determination of the Minister is therefore inappropriate.

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