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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3824

Mr LEE —My question is addressed to the Minister for Health and Family Services. Minister, were you or any member of your staff informed by health funds, the Australian Health Insurance Association or your department that funds had applied for increased premiums? If so, which funds, when were you advised and by whom?

Dr WOOLDRIDGE —I will answer that question in stages. Was I advised by the department? No. I have had the department check, and they informed me that on no occasion, formally or informally, had they advised me about private health insurance increases.

Mr Lee —Applications?

Dr WOOLDRIDGE —As to applications, I was told in the most general of terms that there was pressure in the system. I would say I said this publicly on at least two occasions. I said on the Channel 7 news on 28 May, on a Face to Face interview on 16 June, and at a post budget briefing to at least a dozen journalists that there was pressure in the system, predominantly relating to things that you had done in government. While I was aware in general terms that there were pressures in the system—and I had been absolutely open and honest about that—I was not informed that applications were being made at any particular point in time. I found out, as the Prime Minister said, as a matter of courtesy after the decision had been made.

Mr Lee —Applications?

Dr WOOLDRIDGE —I do not know what you are going on about applications for. The department does not inform me. I have said—and it is there in black and white—that two health funds wrote to me after the event in recent times to tell me that it had been granted. As to what happened before—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Members on my left!

Mrs Crosio —So they paid you for it but did not ask you for it?

Dr WOOLDRIDGE —You can get up and ask another question if you want to.