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Thursday, 27 February 1975
Page: 815


Mr HAYDEN - Mr Speaker,I was saying before the interruption that there would be an increase -


Mr McMahon - Mr Speaker,on another point of order: Over and over again you, Sir, have asked Ministers to speak to the questions and to shorten their answers. Surely you will again ask them to obey your directions as we, when in government, always obeyed the directions of the Speaker.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I again ask the Minister to make his answer as brief as possible and keep the answer relevant. A question was asked of the Minister. I would ask him to be as relevant to the question as he possibly can and also to be brief.


Mr HAYDEN - I could not hear you too well, Mr Speaker, but with respect, vexatious interruptions and points of order are extending this beyond any reasonable degree.


Mr SPEAKER -I am asking the Minister to be as brief as possible and to be relevant to the question.


Mr HAYDEN - I can if there are no interruptions. The Opposition, given the chance, would dismantle Medibank. That has been asserted by the Opposition spokesman on these matters, the honourable member for Hotham. That would mean that people in every State of Australia would commence paying medical contributions for insurance cover. Under Medibank they would, and will, be getting that free of any contributions from 1 July.

Opposition members- Not free.


Mr HAYDEN -Mr Speaker,with respect, how is a person to answer a question if there is going to be this continual interruption? Now, that is not my fault and I do not have the capacity to control the House.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister is quite right. He will answer the question.


Mr HAYDEN - I will put it shortly: Under Medibank the savings in the State of New South Wales, once that State enters into agreements for hospital arrangements, will be, in the case of medical and public ward covers, $157 a year. That is the extra cost that the Opposition would impose on the public of that State if the Opposition dismantled Medibank, and it has said that it would do that. For medical and intermediate cover the extra cost would be $135- nearly $136- a year. For medical and private ward cover the extra cost would be $123- nearly $124- a year. I can give the figures for each State. However I ask leave of the Leader of the

Opposition to have this table incorporated in Hansard; otherwise I will have to read it.


Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted?


Mr Snedden - May I see it? Leave is not granted.


Mr HAYDEN - In the case of Victoria, the saving under Medibank for medical and public ward cover would be $ 1 85- nearly $ 1 86- a year. For medical and intermediate ward cover the saving would be $169- nearly $170- a year. For medical and private ward cover -


Mr Sinclair - I rise to a point of order. This is the time for questions without notice. The Minister obviously had forward knowledge of the question that has been asked of him. He is reading from a piece of paper, and I believe that in the nature of answering a question without notice he should comply with the customary practice and procedure of this House and not rely on prior information of the question being asked. I suggest that the Minister should speak without reference to that piece of paper.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no point of order involved. The Minister will answer the question and be as brief as possible.


Mr HAYDEN - I will start again. In the case of Victoria, for medical and public ward cover the extra charge would be $185- nearly $186- a year. For medical and intermediate ward cover the cost would be $169- nearly $170- a year. For medical and private ward cover the cost would be $ 1 8 3 -nearly $ 1 84-a year.


Mr Chipp - Mr Speaker,he is treating you with contempt.


Mr HAYDEN -This situation could have been avoided if the table had been incorporated in Hansard.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I have stated on numerous occasions that I have no jurisdiction over the length of answers given by Ministers. I would like to make that point perfectly clear once again. If the honourable member can point to a standing order that gives me power I shall certainly exercise it. I have no jurisdiction over the length of answers given by Ministers. I call the Minister.


Mr Ian Robinson (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He is clearly making a statement.


Mr King - He is abusing his privilege.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member has been here long enough to know that all I can do is request the Minister to be brief. I call the Minister.


Mr HAYDEN - In the case of Queensland, the saving under Medibank for medical and public ward cover will be more than $90 a year, for medical and intermediate ward cover it will be more than $1 14 a year, and for medical and private ward cover it will be more than $ 128 a year.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Is this per person or per family?


Mr HAYDEN -Per family. In South Australia the saving for medical and public ward cover will be nearly $164 a year, for medical and intermediate ward cover it will be more than $186 a year- nearly $187 a year- for medical and private ward cover it will be nearly $ 1 40 a year, and for medical and private hospital cover, because there is an additional table in that State, it will be more than $147 a year. In Western Australia the saving for medical and public ward cover will be more than $166 a year and for medical and private ward cover- there is no intermediate ward in that State- it will be more than $ 127 a year. In Tasmania the saving for medical and public ward cover will be nearly $101 a year, for medical and intermediate ward cover it will be nearly $88 a year, and for medical and private ward cover it will be more than $86 a year.


Mr McMahon - Again with some regrets I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I draw your attention to standing order 303 which appears under the heading 'Disorder'. I believe there is a persistent refusal to obey the Chair. The standing order refers to the persistent and wilful obstruction of the business of the House and various other things of which you are aware, Sir. I believe that you have power under standing order 303 to stop the Minister from going on with this nonsense, and I ask you to exercise that power.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Standing order 303 is concerned with rulings. I have no power to give a ruling in regard to the length of answer given by a Minister; I can only make a request. Therefore the point of order is not upheld.


Mr HAYDEN -The Chifley Government of the late 1940s introduced free public treatment in every State in Australia. The succeeding Menzies Government without any warning destroyed that scheme by 1954 in all States except Queensland where a State Labor government persevered with the scheme at its own expense. No warning was given on that occasion. At least the Opposition through its spokesman and sometimes through the Leader of the Opposition has given warnings that as a government it would destroy Medibank. The amounts I have quoted would represent the extra tax which would fall on people in those various States for the various levels of cover they would be forced to take out. It is a charge which would fall on them regardless of their means and therefore it would be socially and economically quite inequitable and quite unjust.


Mr Whitlam - I ask that further questions be placed on notice.







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