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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 849


Mr SHIPTON(2.07 a.m.) —I refer to the situation of chemists, those important small business people in the medical care area, their relationship with the new Health Insurance Commission and the financial situation in which they will find themselves. I refer particularly to those chemists who will, as a result of this legislation, no longer be agents for the health funds. They will be hit hard. At present chemists receive an annual commission from health funds. I cannot say accurately what commissions they have received on average but I guess that they would have received, across the country, of the order of $4,000.


Mr Mountford —Sit down then.


Mr SHIPTON —I am making an intelligent guess. Commissions would range from $1, 000 to $9,000. These commissions, a fact which Government supporters would fail to understand, represent a fair percentage of net profit for chemists throughout Australia. Government supporters should go to the chemists in their electorate and ask them because then they might learn something. After Medicare has been introduced, those who have had their agencies taken away from them will be placed in difficult and stringent financial circumstances. Those who still have a Medicare agency will find that their commissions have been halved. Some chemists-Government supporters obviously do not understand this-specifically employ people to write new business for health funds or to renew customers' medical benefits insurance. As a result of this legislation, chemists will be forced to re-assess their staff needs, to retrench and to terminate. The Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy) who is interjecting does not care about the people in Dandenong who will be put out of work. He will stand condemned in Dandenong because chemists will be forced to retrench, terminate and convert permanent staff to part time staff. A number of chemists will be faced with cash flow problems. Their businesses will be adversely affected by this legislation. The situation in Victoria at present is that the State's private funds ask for payment of premiums at the end of the following month. Medibank's practice is to operate seven days in arrears. I ask the Minister to tell the House the system that is proposed under Medicare because if it is the same as that under Medibank it will impose severe cash flow restrictions on chemists who have Medicare agencies. As a result of this legislation chemists will close. Many will be marginally hit. Many jobs will be lost. I am not being alarmist when I say that in addition to the people that the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Macphee) says will be thrown out of work by this legislation-


Mr Griffiths —You are putting all your colleagues to sleep.


Mr SHIPTON —The honourable member should just listen. He does not care about 1, 500 to 2,000 jobs in chemists' shops that will be lost throughout Australia as a result of this legislation. Government supporters are all looking stunned because they have not thought of this implication of the legislation.


Mr Morris —Stand up straight when you speak.


Mr SHIPTON —The Minister does not care. I cannot even see him over the Treasury boxes.


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Rocher) —Order! The honourable member for Higgins will address his remarks through the Chair.


Mr SHIPTON —I am sorry, Mr Deputy Chairman, I was intimidated by the Minister for Transport (Mr Peter Morris). The Government does not care. The Minister for Transport does not care about the chemists. He does not care about the small businesses in Newcastle, the small businesses in Australia, those owner-operated businesses providing an important professional health care service to customers.

Question put:

That the clauses be agreed to.

The Commitee divided.

(The Deputy Chairman-Mr A. C. Rocher)

Ayes 64 Noes 36 -- Majority 28 -- AYES

Baldwin, P.J.

Hurford, C. J.

Beddall, D. P.

Johnson, Les

Bilney, G. N.

Jones, Barry

Blanchard, C. A.

Keating, P. J.

Blewett, N.

Kent, L.

Bowen, Lionel

Keogh, L. J.

Brown, John

Klugman, R. E.

Brown, Robert

Lindsay, E. J.

Brumby, J. M.

McHugh, J.

Campbell, G.

McLeay, Leo

Charles, D. E.

Maher, M. J.

Charlesworth, R. I.

Mayer, H.

Chynoweth, R. L.

Mildren, J. B.

Cohen, B.

Milton, P.

Cross, M. D.

Morris, Alan

Cunningham, B. T. (Teller)

Morris, Peter

Darling, E. E.

Morrison, W. L.

Duffy, M. J.

Mountford, J. G.

Edwards, Ronald

O'Neil, L. R. T.

Everingham, D. N.

Punch, G. F.

Fatin, W. F.

Saunderson, J.

Free, R. V.

Scholes, G. G. D.

Fry, K. L.

Scott, J. L.

Gayler, J.

Simmons, D. W.

Gear, G.

Snow, J. H.

Griffiths, A. G.

Staples, P. R.

Hand, G. L.

Steedman, A. P.

Hayden, W. G.

Theophanous, A. C.

Holding, A. C.

Uren, T.

Hollis, C.

Wells, D. McM.

Howe, B. L.

Willis, R.

Humphreys, B. C. (Teller)

Young, M. J.

NOES

Aldred, K. J.

Hunt, R. J. D.

Andrew, J. N.

Lloyd, B.

Braithwaite, R. A.

McGauran, P. J.

Cadman, A. G.

MacKellar, M. J. R.

Cameron, Ewen (Teller)

McVeigh, D. T.

Carlton, J. J.

Macphee, I. M.

Coleman, W. P.

Millar, P. C.

Connelly, D. M.

Moore, J. C.

Dobie, J. M. D.

Newman, K. E.

Drummond, P. H.

Porter, J. R.

Edwards, Harry

Robinson, Ian

Fisher, P. S.

Ruddock, P. M.

Groom, R. J.

Shipton, R. F.

Hall, Steele

Sinclair, I. McC.

Hawker, D. P. M.

Spender, J. M.

Hicks, N. J. (Teller)

Street, A. A.

Hodgman, W. M.

White, P. N. D.

Howard, J. W.

Wilson, I. B. C.

PAIRS

Reeves, J. E.

Fife, W. C.

Dawkins, J. J.

Lusher, S. A.

Jacobi, R.

Cowan, D. B.

Child, J.

Goodluck, B. J.

Beazley, K. C.

Tuckey, C. W.

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Clauses 68 to 70-by leave-taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 71 (Prescribed functions).