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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 842

Mr HODGMAN(1.17 a.m.) —I desire to add to the remarks made by the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar) in opposing this clause. Indeed, it is the only substantive clause in the Bill on which I will speak at any length and I do so so that the people in Australia and the people who read Hansard will know that this is not only a move to nationalise, but also a move to socialise. It is a move introduced by a socialist government. It did not spell out, prior to 5 March, the precise details of the legislation which it intended to bring in and, as the honourable member for Mackellar pointed out so forcefully this morning, in introducing this scheme, you have committed a major breach of one solemn election pledge in relation to the health rebate. You might think that because you have the numbers in this House you will get away with it.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Millar) —Order! The honourable member will address the Chair.

Mr HODGMAN —As I say, Mr Deputy Chairman, in accepting the ruling that you give, your chickens will come home to roost in relation to proposed new section 126. The fact of the matter is that you are rationalising-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN —The honourable member must not address directly honourable members of the Committee. He must address the Committee through the Chair.

Mr HODGMAN —I point out through you, Mr Chairman, as the honourable member for Mackellar has pointed out, that this creates a monopolisation, a nationalisation and a socialisation of what up until now has been the province of private enterprise and the property of the people of Australia. The Government will be taking it out of the hands of the consumers and of the deliverers and placing it in the hands of socialist politicians and bureaucrats who may well become themselves victims of Medicare because, as the honourable member for Mackellar has pointed out, the Government's Medicare of today is a replica of the Australian Labor Party's original horrific Medibank.

I am not prepared, on behalf of my constituents and of the State that I have the honour to represent in this Parliament, to remain silent while the Government proceeds to nationalise and socialise. The Minister for Health has always been regarded as a person of considerable intellect. He is an academic. But when it is put to him on the line that he is the principal socialist in this Government, that he is the architect of socialism in relation to the health insurance industry, he coyly says 'No, what we are doing is perfectly reasonable '. What the Government is doing is socialism, it thinks, by stealth-because it did not think that the Opposition, so ably led on this matter by the honourable member for Mackellar, would still be debating this subject at 20 minutes past 1 o'clock this morning. But we shall do that because we believe in private enterprise, the rights of the individual, and a free Australia. We shall not remain silent while this Government, by stealth, converts this country to a socialist republic.

I conclude with a prediction. The bank nationalisation scheme of the late J. B. Chifley brought down the Chifley Government. The Medicare nationalisation, the socialisation of health insurance in this country, will bring down Australia's second socialist government in 11 years, the Hawke Government. Last, but not least, I want to throw into this ring-I throw it with some pleasure-a little question. I ask the Minister to tell us under what head of section 51 of the Constitution he bases his power to nationalise the health insurance industry. He might glibly say that it is the insurance power, that it is the corporations power, or that it is the trade and commerce power. I ask the Minister to tell this Parliament here and now on what basis he says that this section of the proposed legislation is constitutionally valid. I make these comments with some feeling because this Government, earlier this year, used its power to introduce into this Parliament, by weight of numbers, legislation in relation to the Constitution. I ask the constitutional question: Tell us on what basis this is valid. I suggest that it is not valid.