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Monday, 22 November 1993
Page: 3400

(Question No. 664)

Senator Watson asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 7 October 1993:

  (1) Why are young people from New Zealand who are studying in Australia being denied Medicare benefits as from 1 July 1993 when the reciprocal health agreement between New Zealand and Australia to bring this new regulation into effect has not yet been signed.

  (2) Why are New Zealand students who do not require visas not being informed that they cannot obtain Medicare benefits.

Senator Richardson —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) All overseas students in Australia, including students from New Zealand, are outside the Medicare arrangements. By Government decision, from 1 July 1993 all overseas students studying in Australia are required to contribute to Overseas Students Health Cover (OSHC). The reciprocal health care agreement with New Zealand does not require amendments to give effect to this decision. New Zealand students are being enrolled in OSHC.

  (2) On 10 December 1992 the Deputy Prime Minister and the then Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services, Mr Howe, the then Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, Senator Button and the then Minister for Trade and Overseas Development, Mr Kerin announced in a joint press statement that from 1 July 1993 all overseas students will be insured under the OSHC arrangements. Pamphlets on the OSHC arrangements are available in Medibank offices.

  There is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Health, Housing, Local Government and Community Services, Australian International Development Assistance Bureau, the Department of Employment, Education and Training and the Health Insurance Commission involved in the provision of OSHC. This MOU is currently being amended to clarify the status of New Zealand students as being eligible for OSHC.