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Wednesday, 11 December 1974
Page: 3382


Senator TOWNLEY (Tasmania) -I would like briefly to state my attitude to these Bills. The Government is attempting to impose a levy by way of taxation to fund its health scheme. I repeat my opposition to these Bills. My basic reason for opposing them is that I am confident that at present this country cannot afford the cost of the grandiose health scheme that the Government has in its mind. At a time when the people around the country are saying that there should be a reduction of taxation, what do we find the socialist Government doing? It asks the Parliament to increase taxation further to finance a health scheme to which surveys have shown most people in Australia are opposed. One would think that the Government would learn that the Australian people prefer a gradual change to being forced to change from one system to another, the new one being of the type that all experience, everywhere in the world, has indicated will fail because it will become prohibitively expensive.

Any health scheme should have several aims. It should provide universal access by all people to adequate care. It should offset the individual's financial burden but I believe that in many cases there should be a slight financial disincentive as it has been shown in other areas of the world that people tend to over use the facilities made available to them and in such a situation the cost of the health scheme becomes disastrously high. Any health scheme supported by a Government should encourage high standards of medical practice. It should allow the doctor to choose his patient and vice versa. Doctors should be able to practice their profession free of coercion. It should be conducive to the most efficient way of using the money we have available in this country. Of course, it should always protect the privacy of patients.

When we are ill what most of us want is to be treated as quickly as possible by the doctor of our choice and at a reasonable cost. That is the real issue that has to be decided when discussing a health scheme. My opposition to the Australian Labor Party's scheme has not softened as time has gone on. I believe that fewer people than previously are now in favour of the scheme. The professional groups have maintained their opposition to it. The scheme as envisaged will mean the death of the private hospitals. Once the enthusiasm to run private hospitals is lost it will be virtually impossible to get those hospitals going again. It is my opinion that these private hospitals play a very important part in the health care of our community. Why the Government insists on attacking and destroying yet another private sector of the community when it knows the disaster it has created in areas in which it has meddled, I cannot fathom, but that is what it seems to be intent on doing.

It should look hard and long at what has happened in other countries. The Canadian scheme failed. We all know what a mess they are getting into in Britain. We should tend to do the opposite of anything that is done there. Other countries, such as Sweden and New Zealand, have found tremendous difficulties with their health schemes. So I am totally opposed to this health scheme.


Senator Milliner - You have not given us one piece of evidence.


Senator TOWNLEY - I think it has been shown before that, with the honourable senator's woolly thinking, if evidence were produced it would not really matter because he would not be able to understand it. I think that this Government would be far better off modifying gradually the scheme that we now have rather than implementing this new scheme. At the moment it should be cutting expenditure. This is one area where it could easily cut back on some unnecessary expenditure. The fact that the Government intends to attempt to proceed with this scheme shows how hollow are its claims to be worried about the economy. If the Government were worried about the economy it certainly would not be going ahead with this scheme and certainly would not be going ahead with it at this time. '

The scheme will become a money-munching white elephant. I feel we will all live to regret this kind of scheme if it is ever allowed to become law. I suppose the mad socialists and theoreticians like to support this kind of scheme because it allows them to increase taxation a little more in this already over-taxed country. It allows them to rip a little more money from us. That, of course, is the socialist aim. Once more I say that taxation in this country should be reduced and not increased. There is no way that I will vote to support the increase of 1.3S per cent in taxation to fund this levy. In my opinion this scheme will further damage the economy of this country. It is based upon estimates of costs that have not been fully justified, at least not to my satisfaction. I agree that gradually we should improve or change the present scheme. The important word in that sentence is 'gradually'. Basically the present scheme is not too bad and with gradual modification it could be adapted in a much less expensive way than the way the Government is attempting.


Senator Button - For whom? For you?


Senator TOWNLEY - If the honourable senator does not know what I am talking about he obviously does not know much about the scheme. In my opinion the proposed scheme is not in the best interests of Australia. If a referendum were held I am confident that the people would toss it out by quite a large margin. Let it be quite clear that I believe that rejection of these Bills will give the Government basis for a double dissolution. If that be the choice of the Government, then let it be. I will be voting against the Bills.







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