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Tuesday, 3 April 1984
Page: 1094

Senator WALTERS —Mr President, I seek leave to make a personal explanation as I claim to have been misrepresented.

Leave granted.

Senator WALTERS —Mr President, it seems the Government misrepresents us a lot. Last night, during debate on the Health Insurance Amendment Bill 1984 (No. 2), Senator Grimes brought forward an agreement that he said he had before him relating to the Royal Hobart Hospital. He said that clause 7 stated:

The Board will:

(a) in the name of the Doctor charge the intermediate patients of the Doctors fees for medical, pathological, radiological and other diagnostic services performed by him/her according to the specified fee as prescribed from time to time in Schedule 1 of the Health Insurance Act . . .

Senator Grimes then said:

The doctors signed that document to ensure that the fee charged was the schedule fee. The document was signed on 7 October 1983, just a few months ago. Senator Walters said that the doctors did not sign any such document.

It is a voluntary agreement. The document was signed by four members of the medical profession elected by the medical profession to sign it. The doctors who agree with it and those who work in the Royal Hobart Hospital-and every other public hospital in Tasmania-are listed on the back of the schedule, although I point out that-

I do not have the copy here with me. That was a pity. He continued:

The doctors in Tasmania signed the document, thereby agreeing that only the schedule fee would be charged by them. We are told that it was signed by those four doctors on their behalf and on behalf of every doctor in the State.

That is not accurate.

Senator Crowley —Neither is your reading.

Senator WALTERS —I was reading from the Hansard, and what Senator Grimes says is not accurate. Indeed, four doctors cannot sign on behalf of every other doctor in the State. Every public hospital has its employing authority and it would not be possible to do that. Doctors in the Royal Hobart Hospital do sign--

The PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator is now not making a personal explanation; she is adding new matter. If she cannot stick to the personal explanation, I ask her to resume her seat.

Senator WALTERS —What I am doing is saying that Senator Grimes said that what I said was not accurate. I am just proving that he was wrong and that I was accurate. Surely that is permissible, Mr President. There is no agreement in any other public hospital in Tasmania. There is no agreement signed by any doctor at any of the obstetric hospitals in Tasmania which have private patients. As I have said, there is an agreement at the Royal Hobart, but Senator Grimes said that it covered every other public hospital in Tasmania and that four doctors had signed it on behalf of every doctor in the State. As I have said, that is not possible and not accurate.