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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 842

Mr MacKELLAR(1.16 a.m) —Clause 57 is at the very heart of the provisions that have been put forward by the Government in this Bill. Clause 57 prohibits anybody other than the Commonwealth of Australia from operating medical insurance schemes. This is the nationalisation provision in this Bill. This is the clause which we oppose absolutely. We cannot agree to a measure which gives the Commonwealth an exclusive right to operate medical insurance schemes. Indeed, the whole nature of this clause makes one very concerned about the intention of the Government towards the insurance industry as a whole. It is not only a prohibition on medical insurance schemes being conducted by the voluntary health insurance funds but also it is a prohibition on medical insurance being conducted by anybody-by commercial insurers or anybody else. There is also a very serious doubt as to whether health maintenance organisations would be allowed under this particular provision.

When I spoke earlier today in the debate at the second reading stage I said that this measure was a nationalistion measure. I referred to the fact that it transferred $1.7 billion out of the private sector into the public sector through additional taxation, in that it got rid of 5,000 private sector employees and built up a public instrumentality, Medibank, into a much larger body. I pointed out that essentially it moved decisions about health care away from patients and providers in the direction of the Public Service and politicians. In the context of those remarks, surely this clause is at the very heart of the intentions of the Government. There is no way that we can support this clause. We will fight it tooth and nail. We will vote against it.