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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 4375

Mr CHIPP (HOTHAM, VICTORIA) - Does the Minister for Health know that he was reported by Mr Peter Samuel in the 'Bulletin' on 24 November last as saying that he- the Minister - saw- community health centres eventually catering for between 80 and 90 per cent of general practitioner services in Australia, leaving private practice fee-for-service doctors only 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the business? Did he say that he saw Australia moving towards the pattern in England and the Soviet Union where only a few well-off people use private doctors? I ask him a simple question in 2 parts: Firstly, did he say it, or anything like it, and, secondly, because of the silence of his usually non-silent colleague the Minister for Social Security, am I right in assuming that the Minister for Social Security agrees with the Minister for Health?

Dr EVERINGHAM (CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Health) - The report in the Bulletin' was based on my statement to this effect: Everywhere in the world there is a move towards increasing community responsibility to meet the costs of health care. This has applied in Australia under governments of all colours, as it has applied in Britain under governments of all colours. It has applied to the Soviet Union under a government of one colour - and indeed under governments of one colour in other parts of the world. It is a universal tendency. What I said was this: A doctor recently returned from Europe informs me that, in his estimate, in London and Moscow about 10 per cent of medical practice remains in private hands, that is to say, the doctors practise medicine without any government subsidy whatever. In Britain the doctor outside the national health service has no right to prescribe a subsidised medicine for his patient. The patient must meet the whole cost in Britain of any prescription written by a doctor outside the national health service. This does not apply in Australia. I therefore said that I cannot foresee the day in this country when private practice will fall to a proportion as low as 10 per cent, which is the estimate in Britain and the Soviet Union.

Mr Lynch - Were you misquoted?

Br EVERINGHAM - Yes, to the extent that what I am now saying puts an emphasis on the facts completely different from that which was placed on them in the report in the 'Bulletin'. I did not say that private practice would eventually fall to 10 per cent or 20 per cent. I said I could not see it falling as low as the 10 per cent that applies in those countries where there is no subsidy for private practice. The simple reason for my saying that is that Australia subsidises private practice. I said that the proportion of private practice may fall below 20 per cent, but that I could never see it falling as low as 10 per cent.

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