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Tuesday, 28 February 1984
Page: 11

Senator CROWLEY —Did the Minister representing the Minister for Health receive a letter from the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Andrew Peacock, as I did, requesting his assistance in fighting creeping socialism, especially in Medicare ? Did his letter ask first for a donation to the Liberal Party of Australia and, secondly, for him to fill in a brief questionnaire on which future Liberal Party policy about health insurance would be based? Does the Minister agree with one of Mr Peacock's assertions that he will not tolerate free public hospital beds, regardless of patients' means, or does he agree that this betrays Mr Peacock's failure to understand the Medicare levy, which is based on patients' ability to pay, that is, according to means? Finally, does the Minister agree that Mr Peacock should check his medical mailing list?

Senator GRIMES —Yes, like Senator Crowley, I did receive a letter from the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Peacock, asking me, amongst other things, whether I would donate at least $25 to assist the Liberal Party in its fight against the Labor Party, and assuring me that he would continue his fight against what he called the nationalisation of the health industry in this country. Incorporated in the letter, I think Senator Crowley will agree with me, are the most puerile yes/no questions I have ever seen in my life. I think the first question was, 'Are you opposed to Medicare? Yes/No'-one was to be crossed out. Others were 'Are you opposed to nationalised medicine? Yes/No', 'Do you like the Liberal Party? Yes/ No', et cetera. At the bottom of the letter were two lines. The first line read: 'Will you send a donation of $25 to the Liberal Party?' The second line read: ' Will you send a donation . . . to the Liberal Party to enable Andrew Peacock personally to lead the fight against' what he called, as Senator Crowley said, ' creeping socialism?' Certainly the letter sent to me and the letter sent to Senator Crowley indicate that the Liberal Party has some problems with its mailing list.

Senator Chipp —Answer the question. Did you send him any money?

Senator GRIMES —I will come to that. The Liberal Party really has problems with its mailing list. As my colleague Mr Young has pointed out, some people may send some money, but under the new legislation some may not be so keen to do so because they may have to disclose the amount of money they have sent.

Senator Walters —That sort of statement inspired many doctors.

Senator GRIMES —I hear Senator Walters, the greatest representative of the medical profession in this place, known amongst her own colleagues as 'creamy', because she is rich and thick.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator should withdraw that remark.

Senator GRIMES —I am sorry; I did not call her that, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the honourable senator to withdraw.

Senator GRIMES —Yes, I withdraw that. If Senator Walters wants to come into this chamber and represent the privileged in the community, she can. But I am in the extraordinary situation of having received that letter from Mr Peacock. I say to Senator Chipp and Senator Crowley that no, I did not send him any money. I am not likely to. I suspect that neither are the majority of the doctors in this country.