PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2604


Photo of McMahon, William

McMahon, William

Period of Service: 10/03/1971 to 05/12/1972

More information about McMahon, William on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 31/05/1972

Release Type: Broadcast

Transcript ID: 2604

Bv the Prime Minister,
The Rt Hon. William McMahon, M. P. 31 May 1972
Your health is of over-riding importance.
That is why I want to talk to you now about the quality
and the cost of our National Health Services Scheme.
It is in your interests to know just what the
National Health Scheme does for you. You should also know
the differences between our practical health policies and
the nationalised Labor blueprints. The two schemes are
radically different.
We, as Liberals, put the patient first in our
working scheme. Labor, puts the system first in its
grandiose theorising. We know, from overseas experience
with so-called " free" health schemes, how easily the
patient can be lost in the machine.
We must start from the basis that good health
is a priceless asset.
Your health deserves the best medical and
hospital care that can be provided. We have evolved a
working Australian T-htional Health Scheme suited to
Australian conditions and based on many years of
practical. exnerience. What does'this scheme give you? It is
voluntary you are free to join or not. You can choose
any doctor, or change to any other doctor if you want to.
Women know the absolutely vital personal value of this
freedom of choice.
The amount of the doctor's bill you have to pay,
whether for surgery or home visits, is limited. Where
doctors participate under the common fee plan your cost
is 80 cents for a surgery visit and $ 1.20 for a home visit.

I have already stressed that Australians are
entitled to expect the best medical attention there is.
This requires the closest co-operation of the medical
profession if it is to succeed. Under our voluntary
scheme, the doctor : imself has freedom. He is not and
cannot under the constitution be compulsorily made to
provide his service for a fixed amount. Nor can he be
compelled to accept a quota of patients under a salaried
or nationalised health scheme. We do not want that in
any event. With notable excentions, especially with
some sections in New South Wales, the medical profession
does co-operate. In the mid-sixties, the voluntary health system
came under considerable stress because of the growing
need for better medical and hospital care. How did we
resoond? In 1968-69, we began to reconstruct the
hospital and nursing home benefit arrangement. We also
established the Nimmo Committee to make an in-depth
study of health insurance. As a result, we made a lot
of changes and reforms. These are not promises or
pie-in-the-sky. But actual improvements bringing you
bigger benefits and better services. They are all
available to you today. Not maybe next year, maybe
sometime, maybe never. But right now.
I mention just a few reforms:
Full hospital benefits without conditions,
Simplified hospital insurance arrangements,
A single medical table,
The five dollar limit on cost to you where
the common fee applies,
Higher specialist benefits,
No limitations for nre-existing ailments
And so on.
These benefits arc substantial and tangible. They protect
you. I repeat. Under the Liberal scheme the interests
of the patient come first. We will do all in our power to
improve the scheme and further lessen the burden on you.
We want a practical working scheme. But we can't get
well or remain healthy on promises or theories.
So think carefully before giving unthinking
support to something labelled " free health", but which in
reality will turn out to be a very expensive experiment
in nationalised medicine without real benefit to you.
That is why we want a National Health Scheme
that is efficiently organised and run. We want a scheme
that works and doesn't cost the earth, because, as you
know. the taxpayer in the end always pays the bill.

Transcript 2604