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Wednesday, 16 April 1980
Page: 1466

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) - My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer him to the recent failure of the Druids Hospital and Medical Benefits Fund in Tasmania and to the apparent unwillingness of the Commonwealth Government to accept any responsibility in this matter. I ask: Firstly, will the Commonwealth Government accept some responsibility in this matter in view of the fact that there is a provision in the legislation for a cyclical review of the operation of health funds and this review was not made by the Commonwealth, despite the fact that the Druids Hospital and Medical Benefits Fund was in financial difficulty as long ago as 1978? Secondly, is the Minister aware that the collapse of the Druids Hospital and Medical Benefits Fund might bankrupt some people whose large hospital and medical bills are now being sent on to them by the collapsed fund? What does the Government intend to do to cover these people, who paid their fund dues six months or more in advance? I draw the Minister's attention to an article in a Tasmanian newspaper in which the Tasmanian Minister for Health, Mr Michael Barnard, asked why there has been such a long delay in replying to his letter to the Federal Minister for Health in which Mr Barnard suggested several ways in which the Federal Government could assist contributors to the Druids Hospital and Medical Benefits Fund?

Senator CARRICK -A11 aspects of this question are wholly matters for the Minister for Health. But, as I am on my feet, I say that I will refer the aspects of the question to the Minister concerned and seek his response.

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