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Tuesday, 16 October 1973
Page: 2230

Mr Bourchier (BENDIGO, VICTORIA) asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   Has there been a reduction from 100 to 50 Stemetil tablets on pensioner prescriptions.

(2)   If so, does this reduction create a problem to the pensioners, inasmuch as they are forced to make twice the number of trips for prescriptions and collection of the tablets, causing unnecessary expense and effort.

(3)   Will he take action to withdraw this ruling in consideration of the elderly people using the tablets.

Dr Everingham - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   On the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, the maximum quantity of Stemetil tablets available as a pharmaceutical benefit was reduced from 100 to 50 with effect from 1 August 1973. At the same time the restrictions on the prescribing of Stemetil as a benefit were removed and it is now available as a general benefit.

(2)   In circumstances where the maximum quantity is insufficient for one month's treatment of a chronic condition at the prescribed dosage level, a doctor may, if he considers it to be in his patient's interest, apply to the Director of Health in his State for authority to prescribe a quantity of a benefit in excess of the listed maximum. Under this provision, a quantity of a benefit item sufficient for a month's treatment and two repeats may be authorised. This quantity would then be sufficient for three months' treatment.

I must stress, however, that action in this regard is a matter for the patient's doctor to initiate at his own discretion.

(3)   In view of the provisions outlined above, 1 would not propose to reverse my decision concerning the maximum quantity of Stemetil tablets available as a pharmaceutical benefit.

Applications for Political Asylum in Australia (Question No. 1030)

Mr McLeay (BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:

(1)   How many persons applied for political asylum in Australia during September 1973.

(2)   How many of these applications (a) are under consideration and (b) have been approved.

(3)   Have these persons applied for political asylum in any other country; if so, were their applications approved or rejected.

(4)   What conditions have been, or will be, placed upon their political activities in Australia.

(5)   What are their names, what is the former or present nationality of each of them, and what are the alleged crimes or convictions recorded in their own countries.

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

(1)   No cases either of diplomatic or territorial asylum were considered during September 1973. However, some people with political reasons for leaving their country of origin may have loosely referred to political asylum' when lodging application to come to Australia. No such application was regarded as constituting an actual case for asylum and all would have been processed as normal migrant applications, without separate statistics having been maintained.

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