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Wednesday, 13 October 1971
Page: 2285

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - I have listened with great interest today to a number of speeches from both sides of the chamber. Some speeches have been impressive and worth listening to and although I cannot help but disagree with some of the views expressed by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) 1 commend him for some clear thinking on this subject. In recent days we have heard rather dramatic exaggerations of the way patients are treated in these hospitals. Whilst we are in the Committee stage of the Bill, I believe that if members of the Opposition are convinced that there is unfair and bad treatment in these hospitals and that the situation is as they have painted it, they have an obligation to name the particular hospitals. It is not fair to the entire hospital system for honourable members opposite to drag an 8-inch wide paint brush across every private hospital which is involved in this field. Unfortunately many honourable members have done this, and the effect is -

Mr Jacobi - You would not know.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - The hon ourable member has spoken and he can just settle down. The effect of these comments is to cause great concern in the minds and hearts of the close relatives of people in these hospitals. I would suggest, with respect, that if any member of the Opposition has any information to back up the sweeping statements that have been made, he has a duty and an obligation to go to the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) and to name those particular hospitals. lt has been suggested by Opposition members that the moment the increased subsidy is approved, the hospitals will gobble it up without any benefit to the patients or to the people who are contributing to keep people in the hospitals. I do not know what has happened since yesterday's meeting but when I was in Brisbane on Monday, knowing that this subject was. to be discussed and having had a couple of inquiries from some of my constituents, I spoke to people who are involved in this field. They informed me that great consideration was- being given to returning a percentage of the increase to the patients so that it would become an actual patient benefit and would lessen the contribution that these people must make for their hospitalisation. The honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) went to great lengths to say that some new system of guidelines should be drawn up to decide who would qualify for what is described as the intensive care allotment. I fully realise and appreciate that there are many people who probably do not require the extra attention for which the money is being paid. By way of interjection I asked the honourable member for Hawker - I noticed that he was rather stunned for a moment or two and was unable to answer my query - to specify the guidelines which should be drawn up to meet this situation. Any honourable member can say that this is wrong and that is wrong but it is more difficult to be able to present new views and to suggest methods which could be implemented. The same arguments can apply to the patient benefit for nursing home care which is to be increased from $2 to $3.50 a day. We all know that in this field a number of people who qualify for this nursing home benefit really should not be in these hospitals.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - But what is the Government doing about it?

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Mr Deputy Chairman,the honourable member is sitting on the wrong side of the House. Will you name him? As I was saying, a lot of people who are receiving this money benefit should not really be in these particular hospitals. I suggest that a greater effort should be made to police the qualifications of patients to ensure that the taxpayers of Australia pay only what is required and no extra. Earlier today there was criticism of our hospital system, care for the aged and ill and of the intensive care provisions. I submit that Australia has the best record in the world in the provision of beds per thousand of population for people over the age of 65. It is all very well for members of the Opposition, with their Socialist doctrines and philosophies, to knock the present system but that system has been developed to the stage where beds are being provided for such people. Perhaps we have not completely solved the problem of the cost but I am quite sure that the present Government, in the years to come and as it remains in office, will continue to work on this aspect. As I said earlier, the organisations in Queensland intend passing back to the patients part of the increased benefit so lowering their contributions. I hope the situation will continue to improve in Queensland.

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