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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 2028

Mr Kevin Cairns (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Housing) - In any consideration of the estimates for the Department of Health several questions must be asked and explored. The first is: What is the basis of the relationship between doctor and patient in the health service in Aus tralia? The second is: What are the relationships between patients and their hospitals? Both of those questions are deserving of exploration. The honeyed words of the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) and, on occasions, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) concerning the retention of the doctor-patient relationship deserve to be examined because another relationship enters into it and that is the relationship between the doctor and government. In any situation in which the latter is proposed to be substituted for the former it is appropriate to explore what, under a Labor government, would be the attitude of government, of the administration of government, to the doctor because the direct relationship is invited. It is a central theme and a central thesis of Labor's nationalised health plan. What goodwill would exist between a doctor and a government under that plan?

I have been amazed by the strident venom that drips from the lips of the Opposition concerning doctors. It is therefore appropriate to ask: With what attitude would, say, the honourable member for Oxley, as Minister for Health, approach the thousands of general practitioners in Australia? I will quote just two or three sentences. They are appropriate to be remembered. Last Friday night he said of the doctors of Australia:

In spite of this heavy dependence on tax supported programmes to bolster already fat and unreasonably high incomes, they are discontented.

Then there was some weeping concerning the family doctor. What does the Labor Party say about the relationship of the family doctor with the Trojan horse of its own salaried service? Another delightful sentence from the honourable member for Oxley was:

What doctors have not come to terms with yet is that the concept of the 'folksy' old family doctor is largely dead and gone.

This would be the mentality of a government with $ 10,000m of budget force to put into the balance against doctors, against the preservation of doctors, in our own health service. My final quote from the honourable member was:

Additionally, the community generally is better educated and questions the justification of the medical profession seeking to play the role of God among mortals.

Those motives, reinforced with a budget of over $l0,000m, means that one could say goodbye to the doctor service, to the doctorpatient relationship, which we have traditionally had in this nation. That is reinforced further by delightful comments by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) on 23rd July concerning tha hospital system. He was reported as having said:

Private hospitals and private nursing homes are irrelevant to the Labor Party's concept of a national health s:heme and the vast majority of people could easily be catered for in the public hospital sector.

There was a charming comment by the Leader of the Opposition himself. He has thrown his own philosophy into the balance with the honourable member for Oxley and with the honourable member for Maribyrnong concerning the Australian health service. In the latest Fabian Society pamphlet, which was released quite recently, entitled 'Labour at Home by Gough Whitlam', he said:

The major act of nationalism in the traditional sense to be undertaken by a Labor government in the next term, will be through the establishment of a single health fund, administered by a health insurance commission . . .

That would be backed by the weight of finance to which 1 have previously referred. Let there be no doubt in anybody's mind that the philosophy and the intention of the Opposition concerning the general practitioner in Australia - that old folksy family doctor - is perfectly clear. The Labor Party means to eliminate him by a variety or measures.

There is one further matter to which I want to refer, namely, the hospital system. I want to refer to it particularly in relation to the position in my own State of Queensland. The remarkable feature is that the honourable member for Oxley, who portrays himself as the shadow Minister for Health, means to destroy 25 years of a Queensland public hospital system by imposing on Australia and Australians a new compulsory health tax - a tax which people in that State and throughout the nation have not previously paid, lt is a tax whose rate of imposition he has increased twice within the last 2 years. It has increased from 1.25 per cent to 1.3 per cent and then to 1.35 per cent of taxable income. It is also a weight of tax which he will have to increase further in the next 3 months if he is to meet the very high public bed charges imposed in the Labor controlled States of Australia. These States impose the highest public bed charges in the Commonwealth. For that reason alone the rate of compulsory health tax will have to be increased even further.

What would that mean to the ordinary citizen? What would it mean to a worker? It would mean that he would be subjected under Labor's proposed scheme - we have been able to look at it from 1969-70 onwards - to a compulsory tax escalating at the rate of at least 12 per cent per annum. Forget taxation deductions and the rest of it; they are out. He will be paying a new compulsory health tax. And, under a new compulsory health tax, what could be destroyed? Not only initiative but also, in the words of the honourable member for Maribyrnong, the private hospital system. People who wished to utilise this system under a Labor government would have to pay not only the compulsory health tax but also everything in excess of $13 a day which is charged by the private, the charitable and the religious hospital system in Australia. In my own State - I have done calculations only for one State - those patients utilising the non-government hospital system would be deprived in the first year of between $6. 5m and $7m. What better way to destroy, even if indirectly, the private hospital system and what better way to make people rather suspicious? Over 2 million bed days were utilised in my own State last year by patients accommodated in a public hospital system developed under a variety of Queensland governments over a number of years. The people who accounted for the 2 million bed days - some hundreds of thousands of people - would have to pay a new compulsory health tax. The private hospital system itself would be placed under an incredibly great strain and would be on the way to being destroyed quite quickly within the first year. The common sense of the argument indicates that. But perhaps the greatest enigma is that such a programme is proposed by a shadow Minister for Health from Queensland. He wants to milk the people of his own State in favour of some doctrinaire approach concerning

Mr Kennedy - You liar.

Mr Katter - Mr Deputy Chairman, did I hear the Minister called a liar?

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! Did somebody use the word 'liar'?

Mr Kennedy - Yes, I did.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- It will have to be withdrawn immediately.

Mr Kennedy - I withdraw it and apologise for using it; but I was rather upset at the stupid words the Minister was using.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- I call the Minister for Housing.

Mr Kevin Cairns (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) - The shadow Minister for Health would milk the people of his own State of Queensland in favour of some nationalised doctrinaire scheme. He wants to plunder the free hospital system of his own State. He has announced his intention even before he has been put on the front bench of government. I make it perfectly clear to him that that proposal will be rejected by the people of Queensland. If it is suggested that there be some recompense in terms of a further contribution to the State, I would say that the honourable gentlemen opposite do not even understand the State finances. The consequences of this scheme should be known. I would be delighted to hear a defence of what the Labor Party has proposed, especially concerning the home State of the shadow Minister for Health.

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