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Thursday, 12 November 1959

Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay -

Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr ALLAN FRASER (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I claim to have been misrepresented by the Minister for Health.

I accept immediately and entirely the Minister's statement that there is no written document sent by the Commonwealth. That is the only statement by him which I accept. I also have spoken this morning to the New South Wales Minister for Health subsequent to the conversation which he had with the Commonwealth Minister. The New South Wales Minister informs me that the statements of the Commonwealth were put in writing by officers of his department, but he re-affirms that the official statement made on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health to the New South Wales Health Department was that every hospital patient must pay the new tax in future, whatever his means and whatever ward he was in, unless the State itself chose to make the payment. The only defence which the Commonwealth Minister has is that the Commonwealth's demand upon the State was not made by the Commonwealth in writing. It was put in writing by the officers of the State Health Department immediately after they received the communication from the Commonwealth Department of Health, and that demand was then submitted in detail to the New South Wales Minister.

Furthermore, an exactly similar communication to the Victorian Hospitals Commission was made by the Commonwealth Department of Health. That, also, is on record, in the files of the Victorian Hospitals and Charities Commission.

I therefore do not withdraw one word of the statement which I made in this House. It is entirely correct, with the exception of the point concerned in the technical defence which the Minister is making; that is, that the terms of the Commonwealth's demand were put in writing, not by the Commonwealth officers, but by the State officers who received the demand from the Commonwealth.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 to 3 - by leave - taken together.

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