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Monday, 12 November 1973
Page: 3158

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - It is appropriate at this moment to recall words spoken in this Parliament by the late Eddie Ward, who was an avowed socialist. He once said: 'If you pluck the feathers from the duck they can never put them back again'. In short, he was saying that one day his Party would come to power and would do so much so quickly that even if it lost the next election it would leave the country in such a state that it would be difficult for the returning Liberal-Country Party coalition to restore the damage. We have heard a very emotional address by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Lamb), who was the previous speaker in the debate. The words he uttered, along with the words tonight of many other supporters of the Government, have simply been a precis of the utterances of the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden). I am highly suspicious that all of these prepared speeches have been written by the staff of the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) because hardly an original thought has come out in this place tonight. We have heard an emotive claim that the management of the medical health funds has been running around the world on contributors money.

Mr Bryant - You obviously do not have competent staff writing your speeches.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - You go back to building Aboriginal hostels. You even got sacked from doing that, so leave me alone. Claims have been made that these people have been running around the world on contributors funds and that they have been spending money campaigning against the proposed national health scheme. The honourable member for La Trobe at least has the decency to nod his head like a cockatoo in agreement. I clearly recall some time ago - it could have been as far back as 1968 - the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, directing a question to the then Minister for Health, Dr Forbes, asking for an assurance from the then Government that the health funds would not be allowed to spend contributors money for the purpose of propaganda.

At that time, the then Liberal Minister for Health gave an assurance to the Parliament and to the people of Australia that the Liberal-Country Party Government would ensure that this was not done. So much foi all the garbage that has come from the Government ranks this afternoon and this evening.

As a Queenslander, I have been a little concerned about the proposed health scheme. Government supporters have been particularly silent on the manner in which the proposed health scheme - a scheme that has been conceived in the womb of the Minister for Social Security, a fellow Queenslander - will affect the people of Queensland. They have been very silent on this point. Might I relate, for the benefit of Government supporters, how the people of the State of Queensland will be affected by the scheme. I know that honourable members opposite think that anyone north of the New South Wales border does not matter. They think that, because there are only 18 Federal seats in Queensland and that whatever happens in Queensland is not going to affect them very much, they do not have to worry about Queensland; they can forget about Queenslanders. The Government has a hide to impose -its scheme upon the people of Queensland. Day after day the Minister for Social Security bleats in this House about how Queensland is going to benefit by the provision of another $3 5m a year - a wonderful thing! But when the Government imposes an added tax on the people of that State, sure the State Government or the Commonwealth Government will receive some extra benefit, but from whose pocket will this extra money come? Do not parade yourself in here as a generous being, Mr Minister. You are probably taking from the people of Queensland more than the additional provision of $35m a year which you have promised them.

Let me relate for the information of those honourable members from the deep south the way in which we work in Queensland. To the great credit of earlier State Labour governments, they introduced a scheme whereby Queenslanders forever would be granted free hospitalisation in the event of their becoming sick. When the Country-Liberal Party coalition came to power in that State in 1957 there were dire warnings from the outgoing Labour Government that this scheme would be abolished. But 1957 is a long time back and this health scheme is still in fashion in Queensland. I know that the Minister says:

Oh, it is a dilapidated scheme. It is not worth a razoo. They need an injection of $35m', as if $35m were some magic amount which was going to cure all ills. Every scheme under government control, whether it be education, health or a host of other things, is open for improvement, and it becomes a question of examination and acceptance of a particular standard. But now, if the people of Queensland do not wish to belong to a health fund, they do not have to contribute. This Government offers nothing. It just says: 'We are going to take 1.35 per cent out of your pay, whether you like it or not'.

The Minister for Social Security says that four out of five people are going to be better off than they were before. I do not believe him. I know that, as a Queenslander he is not prone to untruths, but I wonder who has concocted those figures. The Minister has never come out and explained how he has arrived at this magical figure of four out of five people. If people in Queensland want to belong to a health fund, they can do so. If they go into a public hospital, they can utilise their medical benefit fund as an extra insurance against loss of wages or any other losses they might sustain through their hospitalisation. They can use intermediate and private hospitalisation. But the Government is giving the people of Queensland no choice. It is imposing upon us some grandiose scheme which we have got to like or lump. Furthermore, the Minister referred to the fact that wealthy benefit under the present system and that is a scheme which works against the poor. I do not think that those on the Government side who have heard me speak in this House would have gained the idea that I am a champion of big business or the wealthy people, because I am not. I recognise that the poor in our society need assistance. The true meaning of liberalism is a system whereby we allow those with initiative and drive to move along and, in turn, this helps those who are more needy and lifts them up also. The fact is that those who presently gain some tax benefit from their medical benefit fund contributions are surely those who are already paying by far the greater amount in their initial contribution to the coffers of the nation. A person who is earning $400 a week may be paying to the Government 70c in the $1 for the last couple of hundred dollars, and receiving only 30c in the $1 himself. The Government advances this emotive question and justifies its actions by saying: 'Well, the present scheme works against the poor'.

Mr Cohen - Go on, go on.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Be quiet and listen. You have not learned in the past, so listen a bit more. I admit that the previous scheme had its weaknesses in that some sections of our society were not insured, whether it be through ignorance or whether the means test imposed by the previous Government, whereby we had 3 categories of persons who would receive different scales of contributions from the Government to help them did not work. I do not know. But just because we had only 85 per cent of Australians covered under our scheme - I notice that the Minister includes Aboriginals in the far west-

Mr McLeay - It was 96.4 per cent.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) -It was 96.4 per cent. This 85 per cent figure is open to question. Just because there was not a 100 per cent coverage, it does not mean that the Minister for Social Security has any justification for tipping the system upside down and trying to introduce a socialist approach. Unfortunately, the light is on indicating that my time on this occasion has nearly expired. The proposed Australian health insurance scheme is just the end of a socialist dream and I am quite sure-

Mr McLeay - Totalitarianism.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Yes, totalitarianism. The references to Canada and Britain are not good enough in this country. Australia is an individual country. We are an individual people. As a Queenslander, I reiterate that I come from an individual State where you are allowed to do as you wish with health care.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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