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Monday, 12 November 1973
Page: 3153


Mr THORBURN (COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The reason why conservative governments have not repealed them is that they are so successful, and the public demand them and will not be without them. I think I should refer to the Canadian program because there has been a great deal of criticism of the Canadian program. There has been a great deal of misrepresentation, and it is quite unfair to the system. It has been said that there has been a 30 per cent yearly increase in costing for the Canadian system. That is probably right with the inflationary trends we face. But the cost of the present Australian scheme rose from $276m in 1969 to $598m in 1973, an average yearly increase of 20 per cent. So the increase in the cost of the Australian scheme is far in excess of the increase in the cost of the Canadian system over that period of time I do not think that the Australian Medical Association should be holding the Canadian system to ridicule in relation to the cost factor when our own system is grossly worse than the Canadian system has been.

In Canada there has been an average reduction in a physician's working week of 81 hours. Average daily patient contacts have fallen by about 9 per cent. So the scheme seems to be working. It seems to be producing a far better health service than one would anticipate from the scheme we have in Australia at present. Nevertheless the Australian Medical Association misrepresented the Canadian scheme in an article it published, and it was taken to task for doing so. The President of the Medical Society in Nova Scotia wrote to the Australian Medical Association in the following terms:

I must say that we in Nova Scotia, and I believe generally throughout Canada are well satisfied with Medicare . . . Certainly we have had problems but we use effective communications to resolve them . . . To a considerable extent this article has misrepresented the situation in Canada, particularly in regard to Nova Scotia.

He obviously does not hold the same opinion as the Australian Medical Association expressed. What the President of the Medical Society of Nova Scotia wrote goes to show that the Australian Medical Association, either being uninformed or intentionally, has misled not only the people of Australia but its own members by articles of the nature of that to which I have referred, which have been without any foundation whatsoever. I am quite sure that the proposed Australian scheme, which is not the same as either the English or the Canadian schemes, will be an outstanding succes

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Dr Jenkins) - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.







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