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Tuesday, 20 April 1971

Senator GREENWOOD - The honourable senator used the prefatory words: 'Before the Government accepts the fees which are proposed by the doctors'. I think I should point out that the Australian Medical Association and the doctors who accept the advice of that Association have a legal and constitutional right if they choose to exercise it to assert whatever their fees will be. The Government has a real interest because of the contributions it makes under the national health scheme and because of its concern that Australians should have available to them reasonably adequate medical services as and when they are required. In those circumstances, the Government is concerned to consult with the Australian Medical Association and to use such influence and persuasion as it is at its disposal with a view to ensuring that responsibility is exercised by the Australian Medical Association in regard to the fees which it recommends to its members. In terms of any assurance which I am able to give to the honourable senator and to the Senate, I shall be bearing that in mind when 1 consult with the Association. As to whether a general statement along the lines which the honourable senator seeks can be made, I think that this must depend upon the outcome of the inquiries and the circumstances as they then appear to the Government.

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