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Thursday, 12 November 1964

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- I wish to refer to a specific provision in the Bill and my comment arises from a matter that was referred to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) by me and by Senator Mattner. Statistics show that the average period for which a repatriation patient occupies a hospital bed is some 22 days. That means that in the course of a year, one bed would accommodate 17 patients if you divide 22 into 365. The 10 per cent, surplus capacity of beds, on the figures given, represents about 860 beds. If you multiply that by 17 patients who could bc accommodated in one bed each year, you have accommodation for 14,620 beds. That is what could be done by using energy and keeping beds full.

The Minister has said that he will refer these matters to the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) and I rise only to bring these facts before the Minister. A few extra wings on these hospitals would provide accommodation. The additions could be of a temporary nature. If a bulge in hospital demand is anticipated in the next 10 years, temporary structures would do. I emphasise to the Minister that this is regarded by all sections in this chamber as a pressing need to which the nation should yield.

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