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Friday, 30 April 1971

Senator GREENWOOD (VICTORIA) (Minister for Health) - 1 do not think I can usefully add to what J said yesterday in response to a question on the same matter asked by Senator Douglas McClelland. As I remember his question yesterday, it was based upon a belief, of which he had some confirmation, with regard to doctors in Hurstville. Thereafter his question was based on a supposition that the Commonwealth's, interest might be aroused if the pensioner medical service was affected. I repeat that the Commonwealth's interest in this aspect is essentially in the area of the pensioner medical service. If it would appear that doctors who are - party to the pensioner medical service are. preventing in some way pensioners, whom the Government regards as entitled: to receive the benefits of. the : pensioner medical service-, from receiving those benefits, that matter would concern this Government. The . statement made by the New South Wales Minister for Health^- I have seen Press reports, of it - indicates the concern of the State Government In regard to this matter which., primarily, is a State Government matter. I am not prepared to give the assurance that the honourable senator has asked for - that any restriction by doctors notwithstanding the distance they may have to travel would be a bad thing - because one cannot impose on doctor's the obligation to travel from one end of the city to the other. It would be unreasonable to expect them to do so. Surely the important point is that medical services are available to those who want them. I think it would be deplorable if doctors, by their unilateral action, prevented services being made available.

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