Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 841


Mr SPENDER(1.09 a.m.) —I re-emphasise the point which has just been made by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Carlton). In a later provision of the Health Insurance Act, section 80, which is part of a division which deals with the establishment of a Medical Services Committee of Inquiry- sub-section 3 states:

The members of each Committee shall be appointed by the Minister and four of them shall be so appointed after consultation by the Minister with the Australian Medical Association.

Section 80 is not in any way touched by any amendment in the proposals before the Committee. If one goes back to clause 49 one sees that in section 66 of the principal Act, the Health Insurance Act, as the honourable member for Mackellar has pointed out, any need for the Minister to consult with the Australian Medical Association is specifically excluded, yet the appointment is otherwise in the same terms. Section 66 (2) in its present terms provides:

The members of the Committee-

that is the Medical Benefits Advisory Com- mittee-

shall be appointed by the Minister and four of the members who are required to be medical practitioners shall be so appointed after consultation by the Minister with the Australian Medical Association.

It is obviously not a tidying up provision. If it were a tidying up provision the other sections of the Act would also be tidied up. One asks oneself why this is. The obvious answer is that section 66 and related sections deal with the appointment of a committee which will have the function of determining fees. The other committee, which is dealt with in section 80 and associated sections, whilst it has a very important function to fulfil, does not deal with the subject of fees. The only inference that one can draw in the absence of anything on the subject in the explanatory memorandum or in the Minister's second reading speech, is that the purpose of excluding consultation with the Australian Medical Association on such an important subject is that the Government desires to be in a position to appoint tame appointees who will go along with its views. So for that purpose it wants to put aside any consultation with the Australian Medical Association, because that could be difficult, embarrassing and not in accordance with its desires. We would be very glad to hear from the Minister upon the subject.