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Enormous gain for doctors under fightback!

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Minister for Aged, Family and Health Services Hon. Peter Staples M.P.


More than $1,000 million would go to doctors' incomes under the Opposition's Fightback! policy, the Acting Federal Minister for Health, Peter Staples, said today.

On average doctors would receive a 60 per cent increase in their net private incomes.

Mr Staples was referring to a paper prepared by Dr John Deeble, a senior research fellow at the Australian National University's Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health.

"John Deeble's paper exposes Fightback! as a monstrous bribe to the Australian Medical Association and a blatant reward for their political support," Mr Staples said.

"Fightback! allows the AM A to set doctors' fees and offers the profession almost all that it has sought over the last 100 years."

Deeble's paper states: "Health costs would rise by at least $1.4 billion annually and the gains to doctors would be enormous. Under quite conservative assumptions, average net incomes from private practice would rise by 60 per cent. On others they would double."

As an example of the income explosion being offered by the Opposition to doctors, Deeble gives the example that even a $1 increase in average pathology fees would raise the average pathologist's net income by over $80,000 per year.

Deeble says: "What possible grounds could there be for such largesse or for abandoning the restraints which have contained expenditure growth (in health costs) more effectively than in almost any comparable country without restricting servicing or exposing patients to risk?

P arliam ent H o u se , C anberra P h o n e (06) 277 7220 Fax (06) 273 4146

26 November 1992 PS405/92




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"It is not as though higher prices are needed to induce supply. Australia has, if anything, a surplus of doctors and a significant inflow.

"Nor are they poorly paid. Net incomes appear to be in the mid­ range for OECD countries (between 2.5 and 4 times average earnings) and while individual fees have been falling, most doctors' incomes have grown faster than average earnings under Medicare.

"It is hard to see it as other than a blatant rewarding of political support which sits very ill within a policy portrayed as based on rationality, efficiency and the elimination of restrictive practice gains."

Mr Staples said the Opposition had been caught out and their cosy arrangement with the AMA totally exposed for the rort it was.

"What the Opposition is offering doctors is a wages explosion reminiscent of the airline pilots thwarted attempt in recent years to increase their salaries by 30 per cent, except under Fightback! the doctors would get twice as much," he said.

"It is outrageous that such a bribe could be offered and as Deeble so correctly points out that once the arrangement was in place 'it would be very hard to entice the doctors into any other'.

"The Opposition is offering doctors a massive increase in their remuneration and expecting the community at large to bear the cost through increased medical costs."

Contact: Howard Conkey (06) 277 7220