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Tuesday, 26 February 1985
Page: 179

Mr PUNCH —My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Despite the strong support given to militant surgeons by the honourable member for Bennelong, can the Minister advise the House whether the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments have received support for entering into negotiations with the Australian Medical Association aimed at resolving rather than exacerbating the New South Wales doctors dispute?

Dr BLEWETT —Despite the lining up of the members of the Liberal Party, the Liberal Opposition, with the militant surgeons, I am glad to say that there is increasing support throughout the medical profession and those associated with health services in New South Wales for the AMA's stand and the Government's genuine efforts at conciliation. I mentioned yesterday that we had had the support of numerous major colleges. I also pointed out that the clinical professors had endorsed the actions taken by the AMA and the Government. I am glad to say today that the Catholic Health Care Association of New South Wales, which represents some 3,500 hospital beds in private and public hospitals, as well as 4,000 nursing home beds, has issued the following statement:

The position of silence is no longer tenable. We believe that every Australian would support the efforts of Government and the medical profession to reach agreements which will solve the concern of the hospitals, doctors and patients. We sincerely hope that-

Mr Porter —Everyone is concerned. Isn't it funny? Why don't you make the changes?

Mr SPEAKER —Order!

Mr Porter —You are quite right. Everyone is concerned-doctors, hospitals and patients.

Mr SPEAKER —I warn the honourable member for Barker.

Dr BLEWETT —I hear some remarks coming from the shadow shadow shadow Minister for Health.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I ask the Minister to ignore interjections.

Dr BLEWETT —I return to the quotation from the Catholic Health Care Association, which continues:

We sincerely hope that those affected by the dispute will encourage the parties involved to see that negotiation is always preferable to confrontation. If there are rights and wrongs, let us address them and not walk away from the resolution of a dispute which threatens the quality and caring nature of the health system.

I believe that support and that comment are sufficient comment on the role taken by many leading figures in the Opposition.