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Wednesday, 11 October 1972
Page: 1411


Senator WILLESEE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I ask the Minister for Health: Have discussions taken place with the Hospital Benefits Association on the question of its investing in the fields of general insurance, land and housing finance, etc?


Senator SIR KENNETH ANDERSON No. If the honourable senator is talking in contemporary terms,I am not aware of discussions taking place. But there is a code in relation to this matter and there are certain provisions in respect of any of these organisations. As the honourable senator would know, I think, they are obliged to keep funds which are involved in hospital or medical insurance separate from any other funds that they have. I think there was a Press article on this matter, to which I responded by inquiry through the Press in Melbourne yesterday. If a company is registered in Victoria - Ithink this was the reference made yesterday - under the State Companies Act it is subject to the controls exercised by virtue of section 24 of that Act. The Victorian Government refused the request of the executive committee of the Hospital Benefits Association to diversify its activities. The HBA did not approach the Commonwealth regarding this matter. However, as the proposal envisages the company branching into all purpose insurance, possibly the company would be subject to the provisions of the Insurance Act 1932-66, in addition to the relevant State legislation.

Under the National Health Act the Commonwealth exercises the necessary controls over the administration of health insurance, particularly in relation to the accumulation and investment of fund reserves. In this regard the Commonwealth has power to ensure that any proposal by a registered health insurance fund of the nature put forward by HBA would be kept entirely separate, and that is the point I was making. The funds would have to be completely separate, as indeed was shown in the annual report which I recall was presented to this chamber during my absence. The report referred to the separate funds of the medical and hospital benefit funds. From memory I think the assets of the hospital benefit funds run to the order of about $126m.







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