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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 154 ..

MR HARGREAVES (12.17): I thank Mr Smyth for his referral to the eye specialist. Mr Speaker, we will have to get one of those joint medical specialist clinics. You can see the ear doctor and I will see the eye doctor!

I am happy to support Mr Smyth's amendment, with one proviso-that, when the Commonwealth does get around to reviewing the Medicare rebate, it jacks it up and does not abolish it altogether. That is my biggest fear. As long as we in this assembly understand that we are talking about a review of a rebate to put some more justice into the system and not kill it off completely, then I am happy.

Mrs Cross: Are you putting an amendment to the amendment?

MR HARGREAVES: No. I just want it on the record that that is what we are talking about. Our understanding is that Mr Smyth wants to see some more justice in the rebate, and not its death.

Amendment agreed to.

MR HARGREAVES (12.18): I thank members for the robust nature with which they have engaged in the debate. I also thank the minister for a lot of the undertakings given here today. I look forward to his return from the battleground of the Health Ministers forum. I just hope that the delightful Senator Patterson changes her mind about turning up and gives everybody a shock.

Mr Speaker, at the end of the day, what I was trying to get out with this motion was that we were seeing, in fact, an exercise in numerical and semantic gymnastics. All this works only to the detriment of people who cannot afford to pay for health services.

The transfer of money from the taxpayers' health purse into the purses of private insurance companies is abominable, in my view-it is abhorrent to me. We ought to be taking the same amount of money and providing health dollars to the people who cannot afford it. When I have a procedure done, I pay for it myself. I have health insurance, but I still pay for it. Nonetheless, there are many people who are a lot worse off than I am, and a lot worse off than the people in this chamber.

We need to make sure that a safety net exists. I am seeing that safety net being ripped apart, strand by strand. If it were not for those good officers who search for alternative methods to protect the health of our men, women and children-and aged people and people with disabilities-in the suburbs, we would probably be considerably worse off than we are now. So I pay credit to the department of health.

I trust that the chamber will pass this motion as amended, and I thank Mr Smyth for his amendment on the rebate.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

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