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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1200

Senator WILLESEE - I ask the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health whether it is a fact that it costs taxpayers in excess of $40,000 to train each medical graduate in an Australian university. Does the Minister agree with the President of the General Practitioners Society that the public has no right to the services of general practitioners?

Senator GREENWOOD - I do not know what it costs to train a graduate but it must be a very substantial sum. As for the statement by Dr Arnold, I would have thought that every member of the Government and every responsible member of the community would reject the proposition. Successive Ministers of Health have stated often that the general practitioner is the corner stone of the Government's health scheme. Obviously the general practitioner is the corner stone because everyone in the community looks to the general practitioner when faced with a medical problem and I would have thought that it would be inconceivable to him to say that people in the community did not have a right to consult their general practitioner. I would be surprised if the responsible body of the medical profession, the Australian Medical Association, did not forthrightly take the same view. I would hope, in the interests of the medical profession, that it would take positive steps to indicate that the community has a right to expect the. services of general practitioners. Doctors are members of the medical profession and one of the responsibilities of being members of a profession is that they make their services available to people in the community who need them. I would think that it is absolutely intolerable that doctors should take any other view.

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