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Monday, 18 August 2003
Page: 18700

Mr HATTON (2:35 PM) —My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. Is the Acting Prime Minister aware of some medical practices offering patients who pay extra the opportunity to queue jump over poorer patients, who may be sicker but who cannot afford to pay? Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that Senator Patterson was reported, in the Daily Telegraph of 31 July, as saying that she does not condone queue jumping? If so, will the government now make it a condition of the supposed A Fairer Medicare package that doctors who sign up do not allow this form of queue jumping? If, under the government's so-called A Fairer Medicare package this queue jumping is still allowed, won't those at the back of the queue turn up at emergency departments for medical treatment, increasing the pressure on our public hospitals?

Mr ANDERSON (Acting Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for his question. I am not aware of those claims, and I am not going to take them at face value. Unconscionable or unethical behaviour by medical practitioners would never be condoned by the government nor, I would imagine, would it be condoned by the profession.

Mr ANDERSON —The Leader of the Opposition interjects, as he is prone to do all the time. He says, `What are we going to do to stop them?' I have not accepted the premise of the question and, until we see some good evidence that such practices are likely to be engaged in, I do not think I would be prepared to do so. I make it quite plain that we believe that A Fairer Medicare is a good and robust package. We want to see its implementation. We are about trying to preserve something that we believe is important to Australians.