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Monday, 23 November 2009
Page: 8604

Senator SCULLION (7:52 PM) —Briefly, we support the government in not supporting this amendment. On top of the government’s reasons, we would also indicate that, for the purpose of Medicare audits, we would include the following specifically: the purpose of the consultation, the time of services rendered, the length of time or the referrals made. As I have already indicated, the feedback, particularly from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, is that you would have to negotiate with each sector, because one of those things may be completely inappropriate. I think that opposition amendment (1) will ensure that the sorts of things you are asking for are the sorts of things that industry has agreed to.

The second point I would make is that the purpose and length of time of the service as well as any referrals is in fact held within the Medicare number itself. So, on application, they are getting all that information. Certainly the industry resists strongly the notion of a random audit and, given the figures of only five prosecutions out of 765, I think everyone in this place would understand that the best thing doctors can be doing is not routinely dealing with audit requirements but getting on with the business of providing health care in Australia.

Question negatived.