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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 12772

Review of the Impact of Part IV of the Trade Practices Act 1974 on the Recruitment and Retention of Medical Practitioners in Rural and Regional Australia

Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 10/11/2002

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 12772

Today I am releasing the Review of the Impact of Part IV of the Trade Practices Act 1974 on the recruitment and retention of medical practitioners in rural and regional Australia.

I announced this review in August 2001 in response to concerns raised by the Australian Medical Association and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia that this Act may be reducing the capacity of rural and regional communities to recruit and retain medical practitioners.

The review committee, chaired by Mr Warwick Wilkinson AM, conducted a thorough examination of concerns of doctors and other interested parties throughout Australia. Its report provides a balanced assessment of the issues and sensible measures that will contribute to greater certainty for medical practitioners in rural and regional areas.

Importantly, the review found that the Trade Practices Act 1974 (the Act) has minimal actual implications for the practice of medicine in rural and regional Australia and does not need to be amended in order to address the issues considered.

The report notes that the ‘perception that the Act does have significant implications has, however, gained currency in the medical community’ and that this perception could be a disincentive for doctors to enter or stay in rural practice. This is a matter of some concern for the government.

To address these issues and perceptions, the report has made a number of recommendations to:

  • improve understanding and awareness of the Act among doctors and other health service providers;
  • vary some Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) processes;
  • develop better communication between the ACCC and the medical profession; and
  • have the ACCC investigate issues relating to some specific concerns raised by medical practitioners, particularly in relation to contracting with local hospitals and health authorities.

The government welcomes the recommendations made by the review committee and supports the majority of them, as shown in the attached government response.

In particular, the government supports further action by the ACCC to ensure that it is widely understood that genuine rosters, which aim to ensure the availability of services, do not (and have never been found to) breach the Act.

This has long been a source of uncertainty and confusion for doctors, and more can be done to advise them on related matters to ensure that they provide the best possible service to their communities without worrying about whether they are in breach of the Trade Practices Act.

The government also supports the establishment of a Health Services Advisory Panel made up of representatives of the ACCC, the medical profession (including rural medical practitioners) and the community. The Panel will help doctors better to understand requirements under the Act and the ACCC to better understand the circumstances faced by doctors as health service providers. It will help to improve communications between the regulator and the profession.

There will be further consultation before the arrangements for this Panel are finalised.
The ACCC will be asked to take immediate action to implement the government’s response, and to report to the Treasurer by the end of 2003 on the progress of implementation. The government will also undertake a review of the operation of arrangements adopted as a result of the report, to be completed by the end of 2005.

A small number of recommendations will require further consideration in the wider context of the current inquiry into the competition provisions of the Act and their administration, being chaired by Sir Daryl Dawson AC KBE CB. This review will provide a further opportunity to consider issues raised by doctors that are relevant to its terms of reference.

I call on all parties to work cooperatively in a spirit of goodwill to ensure that better understanding of and compliance with the Trade Practices Act result from the Wilkinson report.

I also thank the Review Committee – Mr Warwick Wilkinson AM, Ms Diana Gibbs and Dr John Aloizos – and all who contributed to its work.

10 November 2002

Electronic copies of the Wilkinson report and government’s response will be available on the internet from today at 12 noon, at:

Limited additional copies are available from the Department of Health and Ageing. Enquiries or requests to obtain copies of the report can be directed as follows -

By phone:         Brenton Rodgers - (02) 6289 4636
By email:
By mail:         TPA Review Secretariat
c/- Department of Health and Ageing
                  GPO Box 9848
                  Canberra ACT 2601
MDP 50

10 November 2002


Admin Note: the review is now archived on Pandora at:


Transcript 12772