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Wednesday, 13 October 1971
Page: 2269

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The honourable member still has time in which to conclude his remarks. .

Mr KENNEDY - I have specifically moved for the suspension of Standing Orders because I regard this as an important matter.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The honourable member may speak to that motion.

Mr KENNEDY - I have raised this matter in this way because I believe it is the only way in which the Opposition can let this Government know how seriously it regards the position of the health of all underprivileged groups in Australia. Under the Standing Orders, there is no other way for the Opposition to bring this matter forward yet, clearly, it is one of the most urgent and important matters affecting a very substantial minority of Australian people. I am concerned that the Government will react to criticisms of its subsidised medical scheme merely with a little window dressing. Surely if there is one thing that the figures relating to the collapse of the subsidised medical scheme shows, it is that, somehow or other, the health facilities of this nation are not being used properly by underprivileged groups such as pensioners, the aged, Aboriginals, migrants and a variety of other people.

What is most distressing is that I believe that this Government does not know what are the health needs of the poor and it does not know how these needs should be met. It is most striking that while it is clear that it is necessary to have a changing pattern of health care for the people of Australia as a whole and for the poor in particular, and while it is clear that overseas there is much experimentation going on in this sphere, nevertheless in Australia the Commonwealth Government continues to regard health as being merely a question of pouring money into State systems and of propping up its own voluntary health insurance scheme. By comparison with the imagination that has been exercised by the United States Federal Government in paying States, institutions and universities to go into the field of community health services, in Australia we are still in the backwoods.

In the Melbourne 'Herald' of 4th October it is reported that a community health centre is being planned at Prahran by the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at Monash University in conjunction with the Melbourne University. Of course, one can see that this sort of venture is a unique and exceptional situation in Australia and, I believe, everything should be done to encourage it. Regrettably, if one has any understanding of the way this Government operates in the current economic situation, there is a possibility that all such projects could be in for trouble so I strongly urge the Government to give consideration to this project. The point I am making is that this is an exercise which is being undertaken by a university; it is not the sort of initiative that the Commonwealth Government normally takes. We have a tremendous problem in this country. About 1million people are in or near poverty.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order!I point out to the honourablemember that the debate on the motion he has moved for the suspension of Standing Orders should be confined to the suspension of Standing Orders and should not canvass the question of a substantive motion to follow.

Mr KENNEDY - I think I have made the point clearly enough. I move accordingly.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Is the motion seconded?

Mr Hayden - I second the motion.

Question put:

That the motion (Mr Kennedy's) be agreed to.

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