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Tuesday, 23 September 1958


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - There is absolutely no doubt whatever that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) did misrepresent the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser).


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order!


Mr Joske - Mr. Deputy Speaker, I ask for an apology.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - No, I do not think an apology is required. The honorable member for Hindmarsh may proceed.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - There is absolutely no doubt that throughout his speech, the honorable member for Balaclava misrepresented not only the honorable member for Eden-Monaro but also other honorable members.


Mr Joske - I rise to a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I must insist that the language of the honorable member for

Hindmarsh is not parliamentary. He is insisting that there was deliberate misrepresentation on my part and he has referred to a statement that was made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro quoted a passage from the " Hansard " report of his speech which showed that my statement was quite correct. I submit that it is entirely wrong to allow the honorable member for Hindmarsh to make that sort of statement.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member for Hindmarsh is out of order in that he has imputed improper motives to the honorable member for Balaclava.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I do not want to make your difficult task more difficult, Mr. Deputy Speaker.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Then the honorable member should resume his speech. He may not impute improper motives to any honorable member.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Am I not allowed to say that the honorable member misrepresented anybody?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - To say that an honorable member is deliberately misrepresenting another honorable member imputes improper motives to him, and that is not permitted.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Shall I be in order, then, if I leave out the word, " deliberately "?


Dr DONALD CAMERON (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member for Hindmarsh is deliberately canvassing your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The point of order is not upheld. I will listen to what the honorable member for Hindmarsh has to say.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - As I was trying to point out, members of the Liberal party in this Parliament have often found it absolutely impossible to answer the Australian Labour party's case unless they misrepresent the position of the Labour party. Repeatedly in this Parliament, honorable members on the Government side rise and misrepresent the statements of members of the Labour party and rely entirely upon the misrepresentation of what has been said to bolster up their own crooked case. 1 want to give a classic example of this. This afternoon, we heard a speech by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in which he had something to say about the question of forcing people to join private medical funds. He pointed out, of course, that the Opposition was in favour of, and could see great advantages in, private medical funds, and he then went on to say this -

But the Opposition is strongly of the opinion-


Mr Turnbull - I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in quoting from an uncorrected report of " Hansard "? I know that honorable members may quote from " Hansard ", but can they quote from the copy of a speech which comes to them for correction, as the honorable member has done?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! I do not know what the honorable member is quoting from. Is it the unedited copy of somebody else's speech?


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - This is really amusing, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should have thought that the supporters of the Government would be very happy to hear me repeat from the " Hansard " report what the honorable member for EdenMonaro said, so that they then would have known precisely what the honorable member did say. We would then have known whether or not the honorable member for Balaclava did, as I am alleging, misrepresent


Mr Joske - I rise to a point of order. I submit that we are not discussing any question of personal explanations or misrepresentations. We are considering the National Health Bill, and I submit that the honorable member should return to that subject.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The point of order is upheld. The honorable member for Hindmarsh should continue with his speech on the bill.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If I am not allowed to deal with that matter, I shall deal with another aspect of the speech of the honorable member for Balaclava. I hope that he will not object to me referring to this example of misrepresentation. During the course of his remarks, he said that the Labour party believed in civil conscription of the medical profession; that the Labour party believed in directing the doc tors as to what kind of medicine they were to prescribe and the kind of operation they were to perform. I believe I heard an honorable member on the Government side interjecting, and one of my colleagues has suggested that we might perform a certain operation on that gentleman, but that is beside the point. The point is that these were further examples of misrepresentation by the honorable member for Balaclava. The fact is that the Labour party never has and never will tell the medical profession what kind of operations its members have to perform; nor will we attempt to tell the medical profession what form of medicine its members should prescribe. Nobody knew better than the honorable member for Balaclava that what he was saying about the Australian Labour party was not true.


Mr Joske - I rise to a point of order. 1 object to the statement that I have deliberately lied. The honorable member said that I made a statement which I knew was untrue. That is an allegation of a lie.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - It is not for the Chair to judge the correctness of statements, but the words " not true " have never been ruled unparliamentary.


Mr Joske - I rise to a point of order. It is not a question of whether my words were untrue but whether I knew they were untrue. That is the whole point. If I knew that they were untrue, I was deliberately telling a lie. That is my objection. The words, " a definite lie " are unparliamentary.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member for Hindmarsh may continue, but it would be better if he kept off personalities. I ask the House to come to order. When it does, I might be able to hear what is being said. There is too much noise altogether on the Opposition front bench, close to the Chair.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - What the Labour government sought to do when it was in office was to give to every person in the community the right to free medical attention and free medicine. That was a laudable objective, which has been implemented in Great Britain and is working admirably there, as any person who has been there knows. There is a cackle coming from the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), who is interjecting from his wrong seat.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member for Macarthur may not interject from a place other than his own.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The position is that the Chifley Labour Government believed that the people of Australia were just as much entitled to free medical attention and free medicine as were the people of the other, more enlightened countries of the world, and it set out to achieve that end. But what happened? The medical profession took a case to the High Court and claimed that, because the clause in the Constitution giving the Commonwealth Government power over social services was followed, in parenthesis, by the words " but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription ", the profession should succeed in its opposition to the legislation, as the requirement that doctors should fill in a prescription in triplicate was a form of conscription and therefore the whole bill was unconstitutional. The doctors said to the judges of the High Court, " Look here. The Labour government is conscripting us into filling in a form in triplicate. To that extent it breaks the Constitution, and we ask you to declare Labour's free medicine and free medical treatment legislation to be invalid." The High Court judges, in their wisdom, decided to uphold the submission that it was conscription. They said that it was conscription to force a doctor to sign in triplicate a form showing what was contained in the medicine that was prescribed. By that decision, the legislation of the Labour government was destroyed, and so we are in the position in which we find ourselves now.


Mr Buchanan - A good system came out of it.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No, I do not agree that we have a good system, for reasons which I shall explain in a minute. I am not saying, as some people do say, that doctors are a bunch of crooks. Of course they are not. The great majority of doctors are good, honest, hard-working men, who have devoted their lives to their profession. Every one who has anything to do with doctors has to admire most of them for that. The great majority of doctors do more work without charge than does the member of any other profession that I know of. Thousands of doctors wait upon poor people who cannot afford to pay for their services. They do it freely and willingly, and as skilfully for the poor who cannot pay as for the rich who can pay handsomely. But there are black sheep in all families, whether they be families of doctors, dentists, or even lawyers. I notice that lawyers on both sides of the House, and our distinguished Parliamentary Draftsman, who, of course, is also a lawyer, laugh at that remark, but it is not unheard of for lawyers to be crooked.

We must take action in order to safeguard the public, not against the majority but in the isolated case, against the odd man, the exception to the rule. The Government will not say that there is no exception to the rule of honesty in the medical profession, because only in the last two or three years the Government has been forced to take very strong action against certain members of the medical profession because of their action in defrauding the public purse by rendering accounts for visits that were never made and services that were never given. The Chifley Government, appreciating this danger, said, " In order to protect the public against the unscrupulous minority - on whose behalf no one should shed any tears - it is necessary, we believe, for some check to be made of the accounts rendered from time to time to the Government for the free medical services which we are prepared to provide. As a check against fraudulent practices by the medical profession, we proposed that a doctor shall write out each prescription in triplicate, so that a copy may be sent to the Department of Health in order to guard against forgeries and claims for payment for services which are not rendered." Because the Labour government took this step to protect itself against these fraudulent practices, which have in fact occurred during the last two or three years, doctors regarded as a form of conscription, and therefore as unconstitutional, the proposal that they should have to fill in these forms. The judges upheld them, and the law giving the people of Australia free medicine was thus destroyed.

I want to refer now to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). Unfortunately, he is not now in the chamber. He made an amazing speech just a little while ago, in which he made wild and reckless statements against my colleague, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). The honorable member for Moreton, no doubt, has missed his calling. He ought to be a vaudeville artist on the Tivoli theatre circuit, because he made his impassioned speech with a smirk on his face which indicated quite clearly that he was carrying on in a professional capacity as a ham actor, not meaning a word of what he said, but simply opening and shutting his mouth, uttering words of some sort, vilifying my esteemed friend, the honorable member for East Sydney. He made all kinds of wild and reckless charges, none of which was true. As an example, he started off by saying that he thought the honorable member for East Sydney was quite wrong in deploring the action of the Government in discussing with medical benefit organizations the proposed legislation before the Parliament had actually enacted the law. There was nothing wrong in the honorable member for East Sydney deploring that action.


Mr Ward - It was not even what I said. I said it was wrong to give instructions to the organizations before the legislation was passed.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The honorable member for East Sydney reminds me that he did not say exactly what the honorable member for Moreton attributed to him; that what he did was to object to the Government's officers in the Department of Health giving instructions to the medical benefit organizations before those instructions were actually authorized by the Parliament of the Commonwealth. As a point of interest, these instructions were sent out by officers of the Department of Health on 20th August of this year.


Mr Ward - On 7th August.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My honorable friend corrects me; they were sent out on 7th August. In any event, whether they were sent on the 7th or the 20th, the fact is that the principals of the benefit funds knew before the Parliament knew what the Government proposed in the legislation that is now before the House. It is quite improper for the Government to have its officers instructing medical benefit fund officials on what they have to do in respect of legislation not yet before the Parliament, lt is most irregular. Now the honorable member for Moreton is back again in the chamber.


Mr Killen - Cheer up about it!


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - He is muttering something which I cannot catch. For the benefit of those who are perhaps interested in this strange character, I would like to give a word picture of the man. He is a little character with black hair and a gingery moustache, and he can usually be relied upon to do as he did to-night, that is, to misrepresent the facts completely. I do not condemn the honorable member for East Sydney for deploring the action of the officers of the Department of Health in giving instructions to the various medical benefit organizations before the Parliament had even discussed the legislation, but I am very surprised that the honorable member for East Sydney, with his experience and knowledge of the Government, should bother to deplore anything that the Government does in this regard. No one knows better than the honorable member for East Sydney that it has been the practice of this Government, ever since it came to office, always to take into its confidence the wealthy concerns that are interested in its legislation. Those wealthy concerns know about legislation affecting them long before the Parliament ever sees it. Is it not a fact that, long before the Parliament ever saw the banking legislation, this Government took the private banking institutions into its confidence, consulted with them, and told them in advance what the Parliament was going to be asked to do? There is nothing unusual about this Government going to vested interests and telling them what is going to happen, before it tells the Parliament. That is characteristic of this Government. It is simply following its usual tradition and such things should not cause honorable members, such as the honorable member for East Sydney, any surprise at all.

The honorable member for Moreton said that the Labour party was out to smash the health scheme. On the contrary, far from wanting to smash the health scheme, the Labour party will make the health scheme work as it was intended to work by the Labour Government. Although our constitutional powers prevent us from ever implementing schemes for free medicine and free medical attention, as we had originally intended-


Mr Killen - Would Labour nationalize the health service?


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Labour could not, and would not unless the people were so fed up with the health service that they gave us the power to do so at a referendum. I would never agree to nationalize the health service of the people of this country unless they indicated by referendum that that is what they wished to have done. That is an answer to some of the propaganda and misrepresentations that are repeatedly indulged in by honorable members opposite.


Mr Buchanan - Why does Labour retain nationalization in its platform?


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If the honorable member will have a look at Labour's platform he will see that it clearly indicates that the Labour party will not nationalize anything unless it is first of all approved by the people at a referendum. That is what we call democratic socialism.


Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - There is not a word about that in your platform.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am very glad of the interjections. The Minister and I talk about platforms. I challenge him to read our platform. The Labour party makes it clear that it will not nationalize anything until the people of Australia give their approval at a referendum taken over the six States of the Commonwealth. What could be more democratic than that proposal to give the people of Australia the right to decide what shall be nationalized and what shall not be nationalized?


Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - That is not in your platform. You are lying and you know it.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The right honorable gentleman says that I am lying. I am not lying.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The Minister will withdraw his accusation.


Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - I withdraw the word " lying " if it is objected to. and I invite the honorable member to say when this provision was inserted in the platform of the Labour party.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Minister has retracted the statement that I was lying and he now asks-


Mr Wight - It is not in the platform.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The honorable member for Lilley is holding up a ragged thing that is neither the platform of the Labour party nor anything like it. He has something in his hand that he pretends is the platform of the Labour party. The Labour party's platform is contained in a blue-covered book about twice the size of the thing in the honorable member's hand. Obviously the honorable member is not holding up the platform of the Labour party, but a forgery that has probably been printed by the Liberal party. 1 have a copy of the platform of the Labour party in my office. When I finish speaking 1 shall go to my office and I shall obtain the platform of the Labour party. Our platform indicates clearly that we do not believe in the socialization or nationalization of anything at all, unless the people agree to alter the Constitution at a referendum. That is the pledge that every Labour man has taken. Every Labour man, upon entering this Parliament, pledges himself to the platform, which is not to nationalize or socialize anything, unless it is first of all approved by the people of Australia. 1 invite everybody listening to this debate tonight to go to any A.L.P. office in Australia and ask for a copy of the A.L.P. platform and pledge. They will then see that what I have said is correct.

This is something that supporters of the Government did not expect. That is why I have answered their interjections. They did not expect that they would be exposed here to-night in the way that I am now exposing them. They have attempted to show that the Labour party intends to socialize everything without a referendum of the people, but they did not think that that myth would be exposed here to-night and that they would be denied the opportunity of frightening the people before the forthcoming elections into believing that Labour intended to socialize their farms and shops.

A very handsome gent - the Prime Minister of Australia - is standing in the corner smiling, but it is not the smile of complete satisfaction. It is the smile of an actor who smiles when he really feels like crying. Now the right honorable gentleman bows and smiles again, but he is not really smiling. Now he pretends to look glum, but he is really natural. He knows that I have exploded to-night the myth that the Labour party is a socialist tiger that will nationalize everything. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) has re-entered the chamber with a book measuring about 6 inches by 4 inches. He is smiling, and in a moment no doubt he will tell us that I have quoted Labour's platform wrongly. But the Minister still has not got the latest platform of the Labour party. As soon as I have sat down I will obtain a copy of our platform. I will give it to the next Labour speaker who takes the floor. Let those people who are listening to this debate tonight keep their ears glued to the radio, because after the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) has sat down, a Labour member will speak. He will read from the platform of the Australian Labour party the things that I have said exist there.

The honorable member for Moreton condemned the Labour government because, he said, it only spent £151,000 in its last year of office in trying to cure tuberculosis. But what he did not say was that the Labour government1 introduced the scheme to wipe out the scourge of tuberculosis and that the £151,000, that he referred to as being spent by the Labour government, represented only what the Labour government spent in the first year in which the scheme operated. So successful was the scheme initiated by the Labour government that Australia can now boast that no country in the world has been more successful in wiping out tuberculosis.

Something was said during the debate about the Labour party's terrible proposal to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.


Mr Killen - That is true.


Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It is true, says our inane friend from Moreton. It is not true, because all that was required was that a doctor had to fill in a form indicating the nature of the medicine to be prescribed. I am a member of a medical benefits fund, and under the scheme introduced by this Government, every time I claim a refund for my hospital or medical treatment, I must indicate on the claim the nature of my complaint or those of my wife or children. Under the scheme introduced by this Government I must tell the medical benefit association the precise nature of the complaint from which I am suffering. If that is not an intrusion into the relationship between patient and doctor, then I do not know what is. Nothing that was proposed by the Chifley Government anywhere approaches the intrusion into the privacy of doctor-patient relationship that is now permitted under the present scheme when an application is made for a refund from a private medical benefit fund.

The great difference is that instead of trusted members of the Public Service, having a look at the files - men who are sworn and bound to secrecy by the Crimes Act of Australia, as was proposed by the Chifley scheme - applications will be looked at by every little Tom, Dick and Harry employed by the private medical benefit funds. These people are not sworn to secrecy as are members of the Public Service. They are not people who are known to keep their secrets as members of the Public Service are. No matter what is said about the Public Service, one thing that stands out is that every member of it is noted for the fact that he never breaks confidence with his Minister or with anybody who has any dealings with the Service. That is a great tribute which I can pay to the Public Service but a similar tribute cannot truthfully be paid to the people now administerng private medical benefit funds who have access to private information in relation to doctor-patient relations.

I said before that no government has the power to nationalize medicine without a referendum of the people to approve of it. But the day could very well come, if the people continue to be exploited to the extent that they are now in obtaining medical benefits, when they will approve of such a proposal by referendum.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.







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