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Tuesday, 14 September 1971
Page: 1230

Mr HAMER (ISAACS, VICTORIA) - Did the Minister representing the. Minister for Health see recently in the . 'National Times' a report which claimed that a high proportion of doctors were not observing the common fees? ls this correct?

Dr FORBES (BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Immigration) - 1 have seen the report in question. It is the worst piece of beaten up misinformation I have seen for a long time. The latest figures - that is, the figures for the March quarter of 1971 - available to the Department of Health concerning the observance of the common fee indicate that the proportion pf medical services charged at or below the common fee was 78 per cent in New South Wales, 76 per cent in Queensland, 87 per cent in South Australia, 88 per cent in Western Australia and 70 per cent in Tasmania. 1 have no reason to believe that these figures have changed since that time. Indeed, the events that have taken place since that time - that is, the increase in general practitioners fees, accompanied by an increase in benefits - would seem to suggest that the figures should remain at least at that level.

Mr Whitlam - I think you left out Victoria.

Dr FORBES - The honourable gentleman says that I left out Victoria. I did so because so far the funds in that State have not been able to provide the information. They will provide it for the first time, I think, when the next quarterly figures are given.

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