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Wednesday, 8 November 1967

Dr FORBES - I know of the continuing interest that the honourable gentleman has taken in this question. I am therefore happy to tell him that since I last reported to the House on this matter I have had a number of discussions with the president, the executive and finally, a few weeks ago, with the council of the Australian Medical Association. The AMA decided to call a meeting of its federal assembly for last Saturday to consider the question of the admission of the new pensioners. Following the meeting of the federal assembly on Saturday the AMA advised me that it was prepared to accept the pensioners into the pensioner medical service provided that I agreed to a full scale review of the pensioner medical service, the review to be set in train before the next meeting of the federal assembly in May. I have informed the AMA that I am willing to put such a review in train immediately and that I will study the proposals as soon as it forwards them to me. I might say, in answer to the honourable gentleman's specific question, that I have on a number of occasions indicated to the AMA that the Government is only too willing to look at anything which worries the AMA about the conduct of the service. We shall certainly do so in this case. I expect to receive from the Association within the next few weeks formal advice of its acceptance of the new group of pensioners. In the meantime I have set in train the administrative action that is necessary so that the pensioners will receive the benefit of the general practitioner service as soon as the Association's formal advice is conveyed.

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