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Monday, 22 October 1973
Page: 2405


Mr INNES (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - Has the Minister for Social Security seen reports attributed to the Victorian Miniser of Health, Mr Scanlan, that some of the Australian Government statements on its universal health insurance program were fraudulent, if not misleading? Apart from the curious syntax of the Victorian Minister's statement, whereby fraudulence is not misleading, will the Minister comment on the accuracy of Mr Scanlan's reported statement that the Australian Government's plan is a blueprint to nationalise private hospitals and demonstrates an intention to put wage or price restraint on private hospitals?


Mr HAYDEN - I suggest that Mr Scanlan does not understand the scheme too well. I have spoken to him two or three times about it and have had the opportunity of assessing just what he does know about the scheme. It has already been reported publicly that we have no proposals to fix the fees of private hospitals. That has been restated on several occasions. There are clear safeguards against nationalisation of medical services in the community. Section 51 (XXiiiA) of the Constitution makes that clear. But I rather thought that the statement of Professor Sykes, a professor of public law at Melbourne University, as reported in the 'Age' of 5 September, was significant. It was apparently missed by Mr Scanlan. Professor Sykes said:

While the medical professional organisations express concern at the prospects of the 'socialisation' of medicine it is somewhat doubtful whether they have any clear idea as to what they are talking about. Nationalisation in the sense of placing all doctors on the Government payroll and forbidding the carrying on of private medical practice is legally impossible without a drastic amendment of the Federal Constitution. Doctors are protected against nationalisation and they are also protected against any form of civil conscription . . .

But I thought a more pointed comment was made by the Opposition spokesman on health and welfare, the honourable member for Hotham, on 21 September in Melbourne at a meeting of the Australian Dental Association when he said:

Cliches such as 'nationalisation of doctors, of medicine, lowering of standards of medical care' and so on, without ever trying to prove such statements, are meaningless.

Now if it means instant nationalisation of doctors - and it doesn't in its present form-

He was talking about our program- - let's look at it more closely. Maybe it will lead to nationalisation. Maybe it will lead to lowering of medical care, but in its present 'innocent' form it doesn't mean that. I believe that no longer can one delude the people of this country on the basis that they are half-wits or idiots, because people do think and do work things out for themselves.

Perhaps the observation in the last part of the honourable member's statement might be noted by Mr Scanlan so as to help him to take a more objective and more informed view of our health scheme.







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