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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2696

DOCTORS' FEES - STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER, THE RT HON WILLIAM MCMAHON CH MP

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: 18/10/1972

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 2696

FOR PRESS PM's 88/ 1972
DOCTORS FEES
Statement _ by te Prime ! inista%.. r, the IRt Hon. William 10c!, ahorn, CH,. MP.
This afternoon i had a meeting with the President of the A. M. A.,
Dr. J. G. Johnson. Dr. Johnson was ac ! rompanied by Dr. L. L. Wilson, the
Treasurer of the and by Dr. ES. Stuclk-ev, the Secretary-General.
The A. M. A. reoresentatives caxv~ to see me at my rcqueast. I had
asked them to Canberra on receint of a report from the 1-iiister for
Health, Sir Kenneth Anderson, yesterday, that th' Feconomic Ldvisnry
Committee of the A. M. A. was conteinnilat--ng reco=. oending to the Federal
Council that fees for gonoral oractitioner consultations and home
visits and for some other scrvicDs might be increased shortly.
The fovernment was concernod to know more about the A. M. A.' s
proposals because the arrangement betweeon the Gcvernment and the
A. M. A. is that, unless tllare were extraordinary move-. ments in national
economic indices, the next general fe increas..: . qculd not be made
before 1 July 1973, whichi is the end of the current two yearly period
for fee reviews.
The last general practitioner feec adjustment made through the
A. M. A.' s normal two-yearly fee review arrangements took: place from 1
July 1971. The recommendation made from that date was for a fee
increase of 15% in N. S. W. ( wit: h minor variations in other states) on
the fees being charged as at I July 19% cO.
A dispute developed earlier this year regarding the appropriate
baseline for N. S. W. general practitioncr consultation and visit fees.
This led the Government teo establish, in Iqarch of this year, a judicial
enquiry on the subject of medical. fces for these services in N. S. W.
Ifr Justice Mason, who conducted the Enquiry, reported Ito the
Government in May and, as a rosult, consultation fees and benefits were
increased in all States from 1 July 1972.

Besides putting into-effect Mr Justice Mason's recommendation
for N. S. W., this decision of the Government represented an increase of
about 6% to general practitioner fees for consultations and home
visits for all other States from 1 July 1972.
For some time past the A.. k and the Department of Health have
been developing a consultative procedure under which adjustments to
common fees and bene-fits could be determined equitably and by agreement
between tha parties at intervals of two years.
It was in the course of these consultative procedural discussions
between A. M. A. officers and representatives of the Department of Health
that it came to the notice of the Government that the A. M. A. was
contemplating an increase in fees before the expiration of the two-year
period, The Governmcint's position is clear. It believes that the
two-year agreement should run its course before any adjustments are
made unless there have been some quite exceptional developments which
would justify a departure from the timing of the agreed review.
The A. M. A. representatives put it to me that national economic
indices had moved upwards at an abnormally high rate since December
1970. I told them that the movements in the indices could ' not properly
justify a departure from what had been agreed.
The A. M. A. representatives said that the decision on thi s matter
would be one for their Federal Council, which is scheduledto meet at the
weekend. I stated plainly to them that while the Government was willing
to continue to participate in consultative procedures, its officers would
not be permitted to enter into commitments with the A. M. A. on the basis
of claims which could not be fully justified. I also indicated that
action on the line mentioned would be contrary to the interests of the
medical profession and would not be acceptable to the public.
The A. M. A. representatives will be in touch with the Minister for
Health after the Federal Council's weekend meeting and the Government
will then consider the situation further.
CANBERRA, 18 October, 1972

Transcript 2696