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Thursday, 8 June 1989
Page: 3657

Senator GILES —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Community Services and Health. I refer to the Minister's response to a question yesterday from Senator Collins regarding coverage in the press of the possible consequences of the increase in fees by general practitioners (GPs) of some $5 from 1 August 1989. Can the Minister indicate what the consequences to the Australian public of such an increase in consultation fees might be?

Senator COOK —Yesterday I indicated in broad terms what the cost to the general public would be if the legislation were rejected. I can now indicate in some specific examples what the cost would be. The examples I have selected are the electorates of Kingston and Fairfax, and the new electorate of Pearce. I observe that, as it so happens, these are the electorates for which the Leader of the Australian Democrats is running, the Leader of the National Party of Australia is running and the Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia is running. For the first time, all the leaders of the non-Labor parties are trying to get out of this chamber and are running for lower House seats. From Senator Button's point of view, that is a Garry Ablett-like performance. The three players that have been positioned on him are trying to move themselves off him.

I table the detailed workings out of the costs to those electorates. For the record, I mention that the cost to the ordinary population of Kingston would be $900,000. The loss of income for GPs would be $2,250,000. The cost to the electorate of Fairfax would be $900,000. I do not have figures for GPs. We do not have a census figure for the actual population of the new electorate of Pearce, but based on electors it would be $470,000. I do not have the figures for GPs. This document shows how those sums have been worked out. An elector in any one of those three electorates would not call those three people running the `three amigos'; he or she would call them the `three stooges'.