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Monday, 2 April 1984
Page: 1018

Senator WALTERS —I ask the Attorney-General whether he believes he should add to his answer to my question of last Friday when he said that he had no recollection of having seen a legal opinion which casts doubts on the legality of the Government's categorisation of hospitals under Medicare. I again ask whether before last Friday he saw a view that the categorisation action could not be enforced by law. If not, has he since become aware that the action was illegal? Is it not a fact that the Minister for Health rendered categorisation invalid by failing to comply with the provisions of his own Act?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I confirm my recollection as stated here last Friday that I have not seen any such opinion. The matter is in the process of being checked. I was advised this morning that I certainly had not seen any paper on this matter. I understand that an opinion was sought and obtained, I think, by the Department of Health from a private legal counsel. That seems to be the matter to which Senator Walters is referring. I have not had any departmental briefing on it. As such I am not in a position to answer Senator Walters further. I have asked that a letter be prepared for my signature advising her of such information as I am in a position to give her. I will send that in due course.