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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1195

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) - My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health. Will the Government repudiate the action of the Western Australian division of the Liberal Party in sending a letter to general practitioners asking then to condemn Labor Party health proposals to their patients? Will the Minister support the comments which were made last night by the President of the Australian Medical Association who strongly criticised th* Western Australian Liberals for their action and agreed that Labor's health proposals did not constitute nationalisation of the medical profession?

Senator GREENWOOD (VICTORIA) (Attorney-General) - I will certainly not take any such action to repudiate the statements which have been made in Western Australia. 1 think it would savour of hypocrisy for the Labor Party to be allowed to get away with such double standards as are implicit in the request. It is only within the last 3 or 4 days that Mr Hayden, on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, said that the Australian Medical Association was acting like a propaganda machine for the Liberals. He said that it does this at every election with as much representation and as great a concern to preserve an inadequate system which maximises doctors' incomes as it displays currently. He talked about it paying only lip service to the public need.

If the Labor Party is prepared to repudiate Mr Hayden, if it is prepared to indicate that the AMA is not, as he said, acting as a propaganda machine for the Liberals, then I think consideration can be given to what the Liberal Party will do. The Labor Party is saying that the Australian Medical Association is acting as a propaganda machine for the Liberal Party and it wants the Liberal Party to repudiate that allegation which the Labor Party is making. That is why I say that it is a sham and hypocrisy. Certainly the President of the AMA would express the views which have been attributed to him because he is the head of a professional organisation. But having regard to what the Labor Party has promised and to Mr Whitlam's statement that the first major act of nationalisation will be in this area of health, I cannot understand why the Labor Party wants to run away from what its leader says.

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