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Thursday, 27 September 1973
Page: 1713

Mr Wilson asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

(1)   Is the publication entitled' The Australian Health Insurance Program' descriptive of a program which at 18 September 1973 had not been approved by the Australian Parliament.

(2)   If so, would it have been more accurate if the publication had been entitled 'A proposed Australian Health Insurance Program'.

(3)   Did he say that he was anxious that there should be full public debate upon the Scotton and Deeble Report which contains an outline of a proposed Australian health insurance program.

(4)   Will he heed the views expressed by all concerned people who take part in the public debate.

(5)   If so, does not such willingness confirm the fact that the description contained in 'The Australian Health Insurance Program* relates to a proposed program.

Mr Hayden - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   The publication does outline points of public interest in the proposed Australian health insurance program, the legislation for which has not yet been approved by Parliament. In this respect it is similar to a booklet printed and distributed to all householders in Australia in January 1953 by the LiberalCountry Party Government of that time to explain a proposed voluntary health insurance scheme, the legislation for which was introduced some six months later and did not receive Royal Assent until December of that year.

(2)   In the context of public debate and public interest in which the publication was published it seemed a fair assumption that all people interested enough to read it would know it related to the Government's proposed health insurance program. Moreover the text of the publication is written in the future tense and specifically states that the target date for the new program to begin operating is July 1974.

(3)   Yes. What is more the publication of 'The Australian Health Insurance' pamphlet was intended to assist in ensuring worthwhile public debate on the matter and, in particular, to help the public to get an accurate picture of what is in fact being proposed in the face of a deliberate campaign of public deception and misrepresentation by some medical organisations and private health fund managements. <4) Yes. And again this intention has been assisted by the publication of the pamphlet.

(5)   Yes. Moreover it confirms the commitment of the Government to allowing as much opportunity as possible for the public to express viewpoints about proposals for important social changes.

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