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Wednesday, 13 October 1971
Page: 2293

Dr KLUGMAN (Prospect) - I just want to comment in general on the proposition which is being put where the schedule to the principal Act is amended by clause 8. Basically what -it does is to incorporate what the Government considers are the new common fees chargeable since 1st July of this year. What has been repeatedly said is that all doctors or the vast majority of them charge according to the most common fee. This is just not true. What we have had, as the Government claimed during its own negotiations with the Australian Medical Association, is that doctors' incomes in New South Wales increased by 30.5 per cent between the December quarter of 1969 and the December quarter of 1970. Six months later there was another 15 per cent increase in the actual fees charged for surgery and home visits.

The Government claims that the new most common fees - the ones ' that we increased by 15 per cent - are being adhered to. This is just not true. Every local association of the Australian Medical Associa tion in the Sydney metropolitan area has recommended fees above the most common fees. The most common fee for a surgery visit is supposed to be $3.80. The minimum fee recommended by any of the 18, I think it is, local associations of the AMA is $4, but some of them are significantly higher than that. So it is completely untrue to say that the most common fee is being adhered to by general practitioners. In addition, I understand that only a small number of the country associations have in fact agreed to charge the most common fee as recommended by the Government. There is a dispute between the AMA and the Government over the socalled agreement that was reached between them earlier this year. 1 am not taking sides on that issue, but 1 think it is preposterous for the Government to claim that the most common fee is being charged when we know that in the Sydney metropolitan area the lowest overcharge is a 25 per cent increase over and above the specified excess. I suggest that the Government should, instead of quoting the figures of one year ago or 6 months ago, have a look at the fees that are being charged at the present time in New South Wales.

Clauses agreed to.

Clause 10 (Regulations may be made before the commencement of amendments.)

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