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Transcript 2663

MACQUARIE NETWORK WEEKLY BROADCAST BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE RT HON WILLIAM MCMAHON CH MP - 24 AUGUST 1972 - INTERVIEWER: PAUL LYNCH

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: 24/08/1972

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 2663

EMBARGO NOT FOR RE BEFORE 6.30 PM ( EST)
PRIME MINISTER
MACQUARIE NETWORK WEEKLY BROADCAST
BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE RT. HON.
WILLIAM McMAHON, CH, MP. 24 AUGUST 1972
Interviewer Paul Lynch
Q. Prime Minister, quite obviously poverty is going
to be one of the big issues in the election in 1972
You have spoken, and Mr Snedden has spoken, about the
Government's endeavours to stamp out poverty, particularly
in the areas of pensieiners, particularly widows and
aged and invalid pensioners. Now what exactly have you
done?
PM: This covers a pretty broad canvas, but what we
did was to study the Henderson Report on Poverty, a limited
rep6rt though it was, and we tried to ensure that in each
case, that is of aged pension, invalid pension, widow's
peasion, and in the case of a standard family, that at
least we gave them increases in benefitsthtt took them
above the poverty line as defined by Professor Henderson
and his group., The Professor's Report is npt yet fully public,
as I understand it?
Oh yes, it's fully public. It was published
a year or more ago, I believe, but it has been brought
up to date. But what we have done is we have increased
the poverty line in accordance with the movement of, say,
the Consumer Price Index, and we have compared that with
the increases we have made in the -rious benefits.
Prime Minister, one of the suggestions that has
been made this year is that pension benefits should be
tied to the cost of living index in some way rather than
being announced in the B et on an annual basis. Do you
accept this point of view? / 2

-2-
PM: No, I don't. I think it is better we make up our
mind based upon the Consumer Price Index of the kind of
increase that we should give. But what we have done, and I
think it is much more important, we have gone much further
than the increase in the CPI Index would indicate. As for
example, you take, as it were, a married couple where under
Professor Henderson's criteria they would have got about
$ 19.50, the actual rate for us and if it has been updated
by the Consumer Price Index, would have been about $ 24 or
they will receive about $ 38.50 from us. In other
words, we do better than tying it to the Consumer Price
Index.
Q. How exactly will this $ 38.50 be made up, Prime
Minister?
PM. It will relate to the actual pension rate itself
together with what we call supplementary assistance and
endowment.
Q. I see. The supplementary assistance and endowment
has to be applied for separately is that correct?
Pm. Yes, they have to be.
Q. one of the complaints that I have heard voiced by
people calling Open Line to this station has been that whenever
something like this happens with pensions all that
happens is that such people as the pensioners' landlords take
it away again. Can anything be done about this?
PM. That is difficult because we have no power here, but
what we have done in this Budget is to provide that
supplementary assistance, that is assistance to those
pensioners who have to pay rent, would also be increased by $ 2
to Regrettably, we haven't a direct influence here. I
only wish we had.
Q. Another issue I would like to raise with you this
evening, Prime Minister, is the National Health system. There
have been a number of revolutionary ideas put forward in the
last year about the National Health system. There is, of
course, an alternative Labor scheme and various things like
this. One of the ideas I believe Labor is putting forward is
one for compulsory medical insurance. Can you see that
within a year or two your Government will be interested in
adopting a need for compulsory medical insurance?
PM. . I don't think so. What we are trying to do is to
work with the Australian Medical Association in order to get
a common fee, and we had a committee of inquiry, first of all
it started with Mr. Justice Kerr and then continued when he
went to the Supreme Court, that made recommendations to us
that would bring the doctors' remuneration was increased but
also had the effect of ensuring that the patients themselves
were protected to the maximum extent. In other words, that
if we in government were prepared to pay an additional amount
to the medical practitioner for the common fee, it would
overcome the necessity of the patients themselves having to
make an additional coantribution. We believe that with the
AMA that now has the power to recommend and to decide upon
common fees for domiciliary attention, for attention in the

surgery, or for major surgical operations, we believe if we can
S get an accommodation and agreement with the AMA, that this will
really make the National Health $ cheme, whether for hospital
or medical attention, not only well balanced but in the best
interests of the patient.
Q. One final point, Prime Minister, with the National
Health Scheme, is the Government looking at all at the
possibility of insurance for the cost of dental care or
various ancilliary services like the cost of glasses and
things like this?
PM: We have had a look at them on several occasions,
not in this Budget because we thought there were other
matters to which we had to give very urgent attention. We
decided in the past that it was a little too difficult to
supervise and for that reason we have not gone ahead with it.
But this is a matter more, I believe, for my colleague, the
Minister for Health, than it is for me. I will certainly
direct your question to him as soon as I get back into the
House.
Q. That is very kind of you, Prime Minister. Thank
you % ery much. 41.. i4 j

Transcript 2663