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Monday, 12 November 1973
Page: 3139

The CHAIRMAN - Order! If the honourable member for Kooyong wants to participate in the debate he can rise in his place when his turn comes, but he will not debate-

Mr Peacock - I think it is fairly important because he has been quoted as being an expert authority.

The CHAIRMAN - Order ! I inform the honourable member for Kooyong that he will remain silent or not remain at all.

Mr DOYLE - What the honourable member for Kooyong said indicates that Dr Lawson is not only highly intelligent but also honest in his approach to medical care. The widely respected Professor of Public Health at the University of California in Los Angeles, Dr Milton Roemer, has found that feeforservice acts as a positive inducement to suppliers of medical care, particularly doctors, to provide more services than are necessary. If any abuse does occur it is more likely to be found among the suppliers, the doctors, than the consumers, the patients. Finally, the Journal of the American Medical Association of 9 October 1972 at page 182 reported little evidence of a substantial increase in the usage of general practitioner services in systems which placed no financial burden on the patient. The planning report does, in fact, allow doctors to bill over the accepted fee as a deterrent measure, but the main point is that over use does not depend just on a patient's whim and is just as much, if not more so, the responsibility of doctors.

Finally, Mr Chipp is at his most naive when he talks about the quality of health care and its deterioration under the proposed health scheme. In one breath he mentions people with minor illnesses and ailments going to public hospitals rather than to a general practitioner and then says: 'If this is free, human nature being what it is, as is experienced in the United Kingdom and Canada and, indeed, was experienced in Queensland not too long ago, a great many people will flock for treatment'. I suggest that people will not be flocking to hospitals for free treatment if their doctor is offering free treatment in his surgery. But patients may be flocking to hospitals for treatment because their doctor is in a group practice which employs a locum service with barely qualified doctors to do the night and weekend work. Mr Chipp knows of this happening because he cited it as happening to him. In this situation many people do not have a choice - they have to go to a hospital to get any care at all.

The changing patterns of medical care and the future use of paramedical and allied health workers are important areas of study which Mr Chipp has failed to mention in his critique of our plans. I think he should have held his criticisms off a little longer and read a bit more in this area before he made his misleading comments. The same applies to the Country Party spokesmen on our health plans, but with even more reason. They have shown themselves to be unashamed apologists for the Australian Medical Association, perhaps because of the Miss Australia bait held out to entice them. They have shown no sensitivity at all to the important question of health care. Their solution to any problem seems to be to keep the existing hopeless mess, just because they created it.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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