Fabian Pamphlet 48: Health Wars - Australian Fabians

Fabian Pamphlet 48: Health Wars


Race Matthews
28 September 2020
Health and Aging
by: Race Matthews


This pamphlet updates the health care debate and democratic socialist health care delivery policies of the Whitlam years, in the light of the “Strategies for Renewal” thinking currently being developed by the Australian Fabian Society, in association with Socialist Forum and Pluto Press Australia*.

The first of the pamphlet’s two parts provides a broad historical overview of the events which culminated in the passage of the Medibank Bills at the 1974 Joint Sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate and identifies links with more recent medico-political happenings. The Lyons, Curtin, Chifley and Menzies experiences are reviewed, and conclusions drawn from the successful use of delaying tactics by the medical unions. The way in which Whitlam developed the Alternative National Health Programme, which later became Medibank and, later again, Medicare, is examined, with special reference to the use of questions on notice and expert advice. Acknowledgement is made of the role of inquiries into voluntary health insurance by the Senate and Mr Justice Nimmo, in legitimising Whitlam’s critique and conclusions. The politicisation of the open health insurance funds is noted, as is the part played by the health care controversy in the overthrow of Gorton as Prime Minister and the downfall of the McMahon Government.


Published in 1989 by the Australian Fabian Society,  in association with Pluto Press

© Copyright Race Mathews and the Australian Fabian Society, 1989

Author: Race Matthews

Cover design by Donna Rawlins

ISBN 978-0-949138-31-6


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