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Wednesday, 5 May 1971

Senator GREENWOOD - The assistance rendered by the Commonwealth Government to the States is, of course, regularly discussed by the State Premiers when they meet with the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. It is for each State government to determine how much of its resources will be allocated to hospital services. This matter comes within a realm in which the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are constantly dealing. I do not think it requires any reference from me in this particular area. But, quite apart from that area, over the years the Commonwealth has very substantially assisted in the financing of hospitals through its hospital benefits scheme, lt does this not only by way of the Commonwealth benefits which are provided to complement the insurance fund benefits but also in the tremendously expensive - and the expense is growing, too - area of contributions under the special account system, the provision for pharmaceutical benefits and also the contributions to hospitals on account of pensioner beds. These are areas of existing Commonwealth assistance. As I said yesterday, the whole question of Commonwealth assistance, in the light of the increasing charges which hospitals must make, is a matter under review.

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