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Thursday, 20 September 1973
Page: 1333

Mr McLEAY (Boothby) - Mr Speaker,I do hope that--

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - Mr Speaker, I was standing before the honourable member rose.

Mr SPEAKER - In these cases it has been the general practice of the House that a member of the Opposition be called first.

Mr Keogh - I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was clearly indicated by the honourable member for Boothby earlier this morning that he was quite prepared to give up his place as the first speaker in the Grievance Debate. As the Opposition has wasted so much of the time of the House it might be appropriate to allow the honourable member for Burke to speak.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! That is not a matter for the Chair. It is a matter for the honourable member to decide for himself. I call the honourable member for Boothby.

Mr McLEAY - What I said this morning was that I was prepared to forgo speaking in the Grievance Debate because I considered that the matters we were then discussing were very much more important than the matters I wanted to discuss in the Grievance Debate. I still think that the matters that we were not really allowed to discuss this morning are more important. We were dealing with the integrity of Ministers. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) made a great play of the alleged attack on his integrity. I believe that there have been malpractices by honourable members opposite and perhaps at least one

Minister. What I am anxious to do and what honourable members on his side of the House want to do is to see those matters debated. I shudder to think what would have happened if the Minister in charge of minerals and energy in our Government and the Deputy Prime Minister in our Government had said and done the things that have been done by the corresponding Ministers in the present Government. The Press gallery would have been full and there would have been stories in every newspaper in Australia. I suggest that there will not be a word in the Press tomorrow about this matter because the Press gallery has been very nearly empty right through these proceedings.

There is a question of integrity or - we cannot use the word 'lies' in this place - false statements. I would say that there are plenty of examples of false statements being made inside and outside this House by Ministers. I should like to give the House examples of some false statements - I am not allowed to use the word 'lies' - which have been made by the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) in his campaign to denigrate the medical profession by attacking medical fees to draw attention away from the problems that will come into Australia if we ever socialise medicine.

The problems we would experience with the lack of hospitalisation facilities would in my view be substantial. I believe that the Minister for Social Security is acting very much as Dr Goebbels acted in the Hitler regime in Nazi Germany. He kept on repeating false statements and false statements-

Mr Hurford - The Minister is not here.

Mr McLEAY - It is not my fault that he is not here. He makes false statements on a number of subjects and keeps repeating them. There is an old saying that if you tell a lie long enough and often enough people will begin to believe it is the truth. I have 7 specific examples of false statements by the Minister for Social Security. Firstly, he has based the whole of his attack on medical fees upon the false evidence supplied by Dr Scotton. Dr Scotton has admitted that he made what he described as a simple mistake in calculating the cost of medical fees - the simple mistake of $10m. That is not the mistake of the Minister but the Minister has known about that simple mistake and he has, to use the words of the Deputy Prime Minister, compounded the felony by using that false material time and time again to denigrate the medical profession. On the very day that Dr Scotton was giving evidence before the tribunal in Sydney the Minister was speaking to a group in Perth, using this false material to falsify claims against the medical profession. That, to my way of thinking, is sharp practice.

The Minister talks falsely about freedom of choice. He does not go on to say freedom of choice of what. He should talk about the freedom of choice not of one's own doctor but of whether one has hospitalisation in a public hospital or a private hospital. He talks about the cost of the medical scheme being $800m. This is the third false statement - we cannot use the word 'lie'. The estimated cost of the medical scheme when it is introduced by the Government, he said, will be $800m. There are 16,000 doctors in Australia. He has alternatively offered to bribe them and denigrate them. He has offrered them a salary of $50,000 a year under his scheme. Simple arithmetic shows that 16,000 times $50,000 is $800m, which is what he says will be the cost of the medical scheme. That is a false statement because obviously there will be many other costs on top of the actual salaries of doctors. He said in this House only this week words to the effect that there are 1 million people in Australia who at present have no protection under the health scheme. I say that that is untrue. I cannot say it is a lie because that would be unparliamentary. But it is a false statement. The fact is that 83.2 per cent of the population of Australia at the moment are members of voluntary health funds and 9.6 per cent of the population-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! It is now 15 minutes to 1 o'clock. In accordance with standing order 106 the debate is interrupted and I put the question:

That grievances be noted.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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