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Thursday, 11 September 1958


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Ring the bells. [Quorum formed.]


Dr DONALD CAMERON (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I was saying that the estimated expenditure on tuberculosis, which will be found, of course, by the Commonwealth Government, will be over £7,000,000 this year; in fact, it will be almost £8,000,000. Last year, it was about £8,500,000.

The objective of this tuberculosis scheme has been to remove, as it were, from circulation in the community, those affected and infectious with tuberculosis. It has involved the building of these great hospitals all over Australia, and it has involved the payment to sufferers from tuberculosis who are infectious of very large sums in tuberculosis allowances. Although it is true that this scheme was inaugurated before the present Government came into office, it is equally true that it made virtually no progress at all until it came under the vigorous and imaginative direction of my illustrious predecessor, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). It is since then that the scheme has really made an impact on tuberculosis in Australia.

Since the scheme was inaugurated, the death-rate throughout Australia has declined steadily from 29.8 persons per 100,000 in 1947 to 7.6 persons per 100.000 to-day, and the incidence rate throughout Australia is now beginning to fall slightly, in spite of the fact that the population has increased very greatly in the last few years. So national dividends for what has been done about tuberculosis are now beginning to be reaped by the community.

There have been three main aspects of this tuberculosis campaign. First of all, there was diagnosis, which consists chiefly of case finding by means of mass X-ray services. Secondly, there was the building of -the hospitals which I have been describing and in which sufferers can be treated. Thirdly, there was the payment of allow.ances to infectious sufferers so that they could be withdrawn into the hospitals for treatment and could feel that their dependants are adequately cared for during the time while they are unable to provide for them themselves. Of course, I am not unaware that there have been great advances during this time in the chemo-therapy of tuberculosis, which have also improved the outlook for the whole community as far as this disease is concerned. So it is true to say that this disease, which has been in the past one of the great scourges of mankind, has really been attacked on a national scale in Australia and that the results which we are now beginning to reap are more than worthwhile.

There is one other aspect of this to which I should like to draw the committee's attention. It is the fact that the hospitals which have been built throughout the Commonwealth, and which I have described, will be not only valuable for the treatment of this disease, but will be extremely valuable in the future for the treatment of other diseases - chest diseases. Cardiac surgery and all those types of recent surgical and medical development which are now beginning to become prevalent in this country will be able to be accommodated in these hospitals when they are no longer required for their primary purpose, the treatment of tuberculosis. I think that this is a matter on which the country can congratulate itself. In the first place, we have very largely brought this most serious disease under control, and in doing so we have provided ourselves with facilities for the treatment in the future of other diseases, especially chest diseases.







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