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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
Page: 733

Mr MATHEWS (CASEY, VICTORIA) - I ask the Minister for Social Security whether he is aware that material critical of the Australian health insurance program is being circulated to primary schools throughout Australia by a body describing itself as the Voluntary Health Insurance Association of Australia. Can he tell the House the status of this body, how its activities are financed and, if the finance involves the use of contribution income, whether this is an approved use of such income under the National Health Act?

Mr HAYDEN (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Social Security) - The body to which the honourable member refers is a front for a number of private health insurance schemes. It does use contributors' money, without any authority from contributors, on a range of expenditures which I think are far from justified and would not be endorsed by contributors. The previous Government sought on more than one occasion to obtain detailed information on the financial practices of some of these private funds and was unsuccessful. The previous Government was not prepared, for instance, to enact proposals contained in the Nimmo Committee report which would have given it authority to ensure that funds acted responsibly and that if they did not do so they would be answerable for their irresponsibility. I will make some inquiries into the matter raised by the honourable member. I am surprised to hear the honourable member's suggestion that contributors' money is being used to supply information to primary schools. However, having had a look at the quality of some of the material that this association has been producing, I would think perhaps the primary school students have been helping the association to prepare it.

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