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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 3212

Mr MORRIS (Shortland) - Last evening when I commenced my remarks on these estimates I was referring to the distribution of pamphlets by some voluntary health organisations. Mention had been made by previous speakers of the cost of those pamphlets. I should just like to bring the attention of the Committee to other expenditure being incurred by the Australian Medical Association and voluntary health organisations in relation to the printing and distribution of the pamphlet The Universal Health Program: The Plain Facts'. We all know that the AMA's Sim fighting fund has been subscribed to by doctors to finance the campaign of misrepresentation, fear and deception that it is waging against this Government's health care proposals which are just and which will bring into operation 2 great principles. The first is the principle of capacity to pay. The taxpayers will share the cost of the health proposals according to their ability to pay as expressed by 1.35 per cent of taxable income. The second principle is the freedom from fear of illness - a great fear that exists amongst our aged people and those who are in less fortunate circumstances. The universal health insurance program will remove that fear. That ought to be an entitlement of all Australians. It is particularly noticeable and despicable that the Society of General Practitioners has concentrated its efforts on the aged, on the pensioners, by threatening to withdraw their services and in a few cases withdrawing actually their services.

I would like to mention a letter that is being distributed in the Newcastle region by one member of the Society of General Practitioners. The letter reads in part:

I find it is necessary tor me to take this action because of the impending Nationalisation of all Health Services in this country, by the Labour Government.

I heartily recommend that you join a Medical Fund or Medical Benefits only, as you will continue to receive free hospital care.

The cost to you will be approximately 55c per week and I am sure a lot of you can afford this amount, particularly if you smoke cigarettes.

Your medical fund rebate cheque will be accepted as total payment at all times.

The distribution of that kind of letter to aged people who worry about their health is indicative of the kind of campaign that is being waged. Before I move on to the health organisations' pamphlets may I say that I would like to be certain that the funds that are being contributed to this campaign by the medical profession will not be listed as part of the advertising costs of their practices. I should like to be certain that doctors' contributions to the AMA fighting fund do not come under the heading of advertising expenditure and so become a tax deduction, because if this is to be the case it will mean that most of the $lm that they are putting up - at least half of it, anyway, because of the rate at which doctors are taxed - will have been subscribed by the taxpayer. Voluntary health insurance funds are spending a lot of money distributing pamphlets. Again I am sure that the members of the funds have not been asked what they think about that expenditure. Their advice has not been sought, and certainly their permission has not been sought, to authorise the expenditure of fund finances on what can only be described as a pamphlet that attempts to create fear, deception and confusion in the minds of our aged and sick people.

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