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Thursday, 30 August 1973
Page: 622

Mr McLEAY (BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Minister for Social Security is here, I believe. He is the Minister to whom I wish to direct my question. You have got to be lucky some time. Has his attention been drawn to the statement by Dr R. B. Scotton, who is described as the Government's expert economist on medical care, that he had made a simple mathematical mistake of Si Om in estimating changes in doctors' incomes?

Mr Anthony - How much?

Mr McLEAY - Ten million dollars. Does the Minister intend to correct the misinformation appearing in Hansard of 2 May in his name, or does he intend to continue using these distorted and false calculations to discredit sections of the medical profession?

Mr HAYDEN (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Social Security) - It is true that an error was discovered in the calculations, The results are still significant, though. They show that average weekly earnings increased over a 4-year period to last year, I think it was, by 44 per cent but that doctors' incomes increased by between 52 per cent and 53 per cent on average. That is, their incomes increased at a much faster rate than the rate of increase of incomes of others in the community. If the honourable gentleman is worried about errors he might like to consider the error of the Australian Medical Association which was only $27 m out in its calculations of the total cost of its proposals for increased fees. If the honourable member wants a better error - this is a matter of historical record in this House - his own Party as the government in 1969 calculated that the cost of changes to health insurance to introduce a common fee concept would be about $16m. As soon as the election was out of the way the costing was adjusted to $32m. At the end of the financial year the Budget paper showed that it was closer to $40m. If honourable members want examples of good errors, they can always rely on the Liberals.

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