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Thursday, 9 March 1972
Page: 598

Senator MULVIHILL - I direct a question to the Minister for Health. By way of preface I refer to an answer which the Minister gave yesterday in which he contended that the question of hospitals in the respective States compiling their costing charges was a matter for the State Ministers for Health. I now ask the Minister: If on an earlier occasion he or his predecessor, Senator Greenwood, conferred with the various hospital fund administrators and the New South Wales Minister for Health before hospital fund charges were revised, does it not appear rather loose that certain hospitals in a State can ignore the agreement that was obviously made by the Commonwealth Minister for Health, the State Minister for Health and the funds concerned?


What I said yesterday was, as far as I know, accurate - that the responsibility for fixing fees in the States is the prerogative of State governments. I think it is fair enough to acknowledge the point made by Senator Mulvihill, that sometimes a degree of embarrassment is caused where fees are fixed unilaterally, as is the right of a sovereign State. However, I do not want to reflect upon my relations with State Ministers for Health and State governments in this field, because there is a high degree of co-operation. Indeed, last Thursday and Friday I attended a conference of Health Ministers where all political persuasions were represented. A high degree of cooperation is being given by Ministers for Health all over the Commonwealth. I will have another look at the point raised by Senator Mulvihill. The answer I gave yesterday was accurate, but I appreciate the points made by Senator Mulvihill.

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