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Tuesday, 14 December 1993
Page: 4506


Senator HERRON (3.39 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

   That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Health (Senator Richardson), to a question without notice asked by Senator Herron this day, relating to health insurance.

I was astounded when the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) said yesterday:

Medicare is working so well that people are leaving the private health system and joining the public health system.

I come from Queensland where last year 20,000 more people insured themselves privately. I know that within the last month and next month three people in this chamber will have undergone and will undergo surgery, and all of them are going privately.

  The public hospital system has been functioning in Queensland for nigh on 50 years and 20,000 people have rushed off to join the private health system. If that does not put the lie to what the Prime Minister believes, it certainly demonstrates that Senator Richardson has a tremendous education job to do on the Prime Minister to convince him that the only chance for the public hospital system of this country to survive is to take the pressure off it by getting people to insure privately. It is the only chance. As Senator Richardson well knows, this is his last chance to convince the Prime Minister, the cabinet, the rest of the caucus, the ACTU, even the Democrats and whoever else is opposing him.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.