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Thursday, 9 December 1976
Page: 3680

Mr Les McMahon (SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   How many taxpayers elected to pay the 2.S per cent Medibank levy charge.

(2)   How many have joined Medibank Private in any of its benefits scales.

(3)   How many taxpayers elected to join private medical and hospital benefits funds.

(4)   What is the present membership of private hospital and medical benefits funds.

Mr Hunt -The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   The specific number of taxpayers who pay the 2.5% levy will be information which can only be provided by the Taxation Office and I understand it will be some time before this information is available. With regard to the number of persons who pay the levy or are exempt from the levy and are covered by Standard Medibank, such persons are not required to register with the Health Insurance Commission and accordingly the number of these persons could only be calculated when the number of privately insured persons is known. This information will not be available from the funds until early 1977.

(2)   In keeping with the competitive nature of the private health insurance industry, the Health Insurance Commission does not intend to release details of its private operations in advance of its competitors as such action may be inimical to its interests. I support this view completely. All registered organisations are required to submit details of their operations to my Department each year. This information is subsequently published in an annual report entitled 'Operations of the Registered Medical and Hospital Benefits Organisations'. This report will include membership information.

(3)   Details of the number of taxpayers who joined private medical and hospital benefits are not known.

(4)   As indicated in ( 1 ), the present membership of private hospital and medical benefit funds will not be known until early 1977.

Lycine in Food Aid Program (Question No. 1610)

Mr Short asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs:

(1)   Is lycine a valuable amino acid in the context of Australia's food aid program?

(2)   Is the unit cost of providing lycine through meat protein less than that through wheat protein?

(3)   Is it practicable and/or desirable for Australia to provide more of its food aid in the form of canned beef luncheon meat?

(4)   If so, will the Government examine the desirability of increasing its food aid going through the World Food Program in the form of canned meat, as a proportion of Australia's total food aid program?

Mr Peacock - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   No.

(3)   This is a matter for judgment bearing in ming the nutritional value and cost of canned meat as compared with other foodstuffs and the expressed needs of recipient countries. Australia has recently given a total of $450,000 worth of canned meat to Lebanon and Cyprus to help these countries meet emergency food needs. The Australian Development Assistance Agency will continue to seek appropriate opportunities to use processed meat in nutritional and developmental programs in developing countries.

(4)   Australia includes canned meat in the list of commodities which it is willing to supply to the World Food Program as part of our commodities pledge. Moreover Australian representatives in Rome have stressed to the World Food Program that we are anxious to see the use of Australian canned meat increased. However, the World Food Program has pointed out that there are serious difficulties in the way of using more canned meat in its nutritional programs, including its high cost and the fact that it is not a typical food commodity in developing countries which gives rise to problems of acceptability.

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