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Tuesday, 9 October 1984
Page: 1899

Mr CARLTON —My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. In view of the public disclosure provisions of the electoral funding legislation and its objective of impartiality in public funding, will the Minister terminate immediately the blatantly political multi-million dollar advertising campaign for Medicare?

Dr BLEWETT —The decisions in relation to Medicare advertising are, of course, made by the Health Insurance Commission, which is responsible for the operation of Medicare. Of course I have had discussions with the Health Insurance Commission in relation to this matter. It was always a part of the Health Insurance Commission's program that if necessary-this was dependent on the type and kind of advertising waged against Medicare by the private funds-there would be a supportive campaign towards the end of 1984. In the six months from January to June $3.5m was spent by the private funds in their campaign. Some of that advertising was responsible but much of it was devoted simply to knocking, denigrating and attacking Medicare. Indeed, some of that private fund advertising was so blatantly misleading that there were protests to the various commissions responsible for fair advertising.

In view of that $3.5m campaign from January to June-we are advised that it has continued at roughly the same level-it was decided that a supportive campaign would be developed in relation to Medicare. The cost of that campaign, for the information of the honourable member, is: In relation to television, $690,000; and in relation to the Press, $250,000. That compares with a campaign of at least, known, $3.5m, much of it deliberately misrepresenting Medicare. If the Opposition bothered to look at that advertising it would find that it is much fairer to the private funds than much of the private fund advertising is to Medicare.

Mr Hawke —I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.

Mr Hodgman —What about the Boulevard? You will not even debate it when I have laryngitis. You are a gutless craven coward.

Mr SPEAKER —Order!

Mr Kerin —I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I overheard that comment and I ask the honourable member for Denison to withdraw it.

Mr SPEAKER —The honourable member for Denison will withdraw that remark.

Mr Hodgman —When you debate the Boulevard incident. I have got--

Mr SPEAKER —I name the honourable member for Denison.

Motion (by Mr Young) put:

That the honourable member for Denison be suspended from the service of the House.