Index of References to MRI in Australian Federal Parliament

Compiled by Greg Brown
For More MRI information visit the  Adelaide MRI Web site
Copyright of linked material stays with their originator.
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Commenced October 22 1999
Last Update September 2000(up to Dec 31st 1999)
 
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Remember the two simple rules of Australian health policy:
Current News
Currently references cover the period to October 22 1999, and only items raised in the proceedings of the houses of parliament.   The list will soon be expanded with the House references from October 22 to the end of sitting, and most importantly with the proceedings of the Expenditure reviews committees and senate committees where departmental officers present information on budget measures.
The current MRI review is expected to report to the Minister in February 2000.   The recommendations can be expected to used to form policy to be announced in the next budget, but may include more pressing recommendations.
the Auditor General's enquiry into the probity of the budget negotiations will not report till much later.

There are 190 references in my favourites list.  It takes time to get them all entered and checked, and to provide a non biased summary. Please bear with me, they are coming in search list order, but if you have a specific speech or point you are looking for, e-mail me and I'll see if I can provide a URL from my notebooks.  BTW the emphasis on uploading as I go also explains the transient spelling errors. Feel free to point them out.


Changes of Leadership & Government

Please keep in mind that the Political party in government changes from time to time
 
 
Period Prime Minister Government Parties Opposition Parties Cross Benches 
? to March 1983 Malcolm Fraser Liberal, National Australian Labor Party Democrats (Senate)
March 83 to Dec 91  Bob Hawke Australian Labor Party Liberal, National Democrats (Senate)
Dec 91 to March 96 Paul Keating Australian Labor Party Liberal, National Democrats (Senate)
March 96 to present John Howard Liberal, National Australian Labor Party Democrats (Senate)

The Current Key Players

Name Role Home page E-mail
Dr Michael Wooldridge MP Liberal Minister for Health
Medically trained
Parliamentary
Personal
Michael.Wooldridge.MP@aph.gov.au
Ms Jenny Macklin MP ALP
Shadow Minister for Health
Parliamentary

Personal

Jenny.macklin.MP@aph.gov.au
Mr Kim Beazley MP ALP. Leader of the Opposition 99  Parliamentary  
Mr John Howard Liberal Prime Minister 99  Parliamentary  
Mr John Herron  Liberal Senator.  Medically trained  Parliamentary  
AHTAC Australian Health & Technology Advisory Panel.
Successor body to NHTAP
 Publications Index  
MSAC  Medicare Services Advisory Committee Took over from the AHTAC in 1998
"The principal role of MSAC is to advise the Minister on evidence relating to the safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of new medical technologies and procedures. This advice will help to inform Government decisions about which new medical services should attract funding under Medicare. "
Homepage msac.secretariat@health.gov.au 
AIH Australian Institute of Health Established by N.Blewitt in 1984 as part of the Department of Health .focusing on public   health, social medicine, health statistics and health economics
A. S. Podger Secretary, Department of Health and Aged Care    
Dr Barry Catchlove Chair of the Health Insurance Commission from 30 July 98
Managing Director of Health care of Australia (HCoA) at May 12 1998
HCoA

Health Insurance Commission

 
Dr Jeff Harmer Managing Director of the Health Insurance Commission Health Insurance Commission  
Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR formerly and a.k.a. RACR) Professional College of  Radiologists  Members Index
Non-Members Index
ranzcr@ranzcr.edu.au
ADIA  Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association Industry lobby group    
HIC Health Insurance Commission Federal department administering the Medicare arrangements and particularly Medicare payments.    
DPP Federal director of public prosecution.The office responsible for developing a legal case and prosecuting.

Table of  References to MRI

1984 Health Minister  Neil Blewitt ALP

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment Ref
March 27 1984 Senate 750 Answer to question posted 18/11/93 Q. List of new committees for the Health Portfolio URL Includes Technical Committee on NMR, involving no extra departmental staff. 84-1
Oct. 11 1984 Senate 1647 Question asking if the Govt has considered sending experts to study MRI scanners.
A. Initial plans for evaluation are based on installing scanners in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
URL The first major description of a plan to introduce MRI into the Australian Health funding system. The policy (recommended by the NHTAP MR Technical committee) was implemented by a Labor government with substantial involvement and direction by State health departments, physicists and radiologists. 84-2

1985 Health Minister  Neil Blewitt ALP

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment Ref
March 21 1985 House 731 Reply to Governor General's remarks on the opening of parliament URL Cursory reference describing the period between discovery of a fundamental idea and its general application. 85-1
May 20 1985 House 2666 Outline of plans to introduce MRI services into Australia " in a rational and planned way"  URL Description of public funding plans for MRI  The policy was to provide Medicare funding of MRI at a limited number of approved sites in conjunction with evaluation of the role of the technology and its impact of clinical outcomes. The Health Minister reports the price of scanners as between $1.2 and $2.6 million. 85-2
Sept. 19 1985 Senate 446 List of consultants used by the department of health.  Cites Dr. David Drewhurst (biomedical engineer) 22 days work $14.283  W.Hill $13.076 URL Dr Drewhurst's report is on public record .  It should be available form the Australian Government printers, but for serious researchers I can provide a copy. email gbrown1@mail.rah.sa.gov.au.  It describes the the state of MRI in the world and some vision of it introduction into Australia. 85-3
Nov. 19 1985 House 3159 Details of Advisory panel membership & remuneration & travel allowances URL NHTAP MR Technical Committee
David Haley   I McDonald  William Sorby,  Geoffrey  Burness,  David Dewhurst,  W.Hare,  Angus Robertson, Ken Siddle, J,Glancy.
85-4

1986 Health Minister  Neil Blewitt ALP

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
Feb. 11 1986 House 1253 List of consultancies commissioned by the Health Department. URL Prof Burness & Dr. Hill to evaluate MR equipment.
August 19 1986 Senate 65 Q. Why locate MRI at Royal North Shore Hospital ? What about the large population in the Western Suburbs of Sydney?
A. Current policy is to place a scanner in each of the 5 mainland states. Location is the choice of State Governments.
URL The efforts to secure an MRI scanner in the west of Sydney (Liverpool particularly) continue. See later Hansard entries and press releases.
To date they haven't been successful.
Sept. 16 1986 House 661 Report of Overseas travel sponsored by the department of Health.  URL Includes an Engineer travelling to UCSF to study quantification of blood flow by MR
Sept. 17 1986 House 847 Health Legislation Amendment Bill No.2 2nd reading URL Cursory reference.  Increased funding to assist patient travel should help access to MRI for those living in the country.
Sept. 25 1986 Senate 806 Health Legislation Amendment Bill No.2 2nd reading URL Virtually the same speech as above.  MRI described as a " highly specialized service" and grouped with  liver and heart transplants and lithotripsy" 

1987 Health Minister  Neil Blewitt ALP

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
March 17 1987 Senate 837 Q: Outline the plans for MRI service provision in Australia. posted on notice Dec.2 86 URL Sen Tate ALP outlines the purpose and method of the NHTAP supervised introduction of MRI and the assessment programme.
The initial public funding of MRI in Australia.
March 19 1987 House 1106 AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF HEALTH BILL 1987: Second Reading  Changing the AIH from a branch of the health department to a statutory body  URL The AIH was the organizational entity responsible for developing plans to introduce MRI to Australia 
April 1 1987 House 1926 Q. What are purposes of the Health Programme Grants (HPG)
A. Increased funding and new projects. $1M family planning, $666,000 new clinics. $5M evaluation costs for 5 MRI sites
URL Australian Federal MRI FUnding applied to :
Royal North Shore Hospital - Sydney, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital - Brisbane, Sir Charles Gairdner Medical Centre - Perth
N.B. At the time a private scanner was in operation in Sydney (Edgecliff).

1988  Health Minister  Neil Blewitt ALP

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
Nov. 30 1988 House 3577 Standing Committee on Science and Technology URL Cursory reference.  Dr.Wooldridge, making his first reference to MRI points out that superconducting materials are used in MRI scanners

1989  Health Minister  Neil Blewitt ALP

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
Nov. 27 1989 House 2141 Q. Is the Govt pathology and radiology services rendered by GPs ? A. No but measures to limit serious growth in Medicare spending on Radiology are being developed. URL A 1987 review of diagnostic services conducted by the Health department recommends " arms length" referral.  the RACR attributes the growth to medical entrepreneurs, the establishment of single owner multi-disciplinary clinics that own include diagnostic services and self refer internally.  MRI services were to be included in rules banning self referral generally.

1990  Health Minister  Neil Blewitt ALP

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
May 25 1990 Senate 1128 Q. Is MRI better than CT (for tumours). Is the government considering widening the availability of MRI.
A. Can't offer a medical opinion. Question referred to the Health Minister
URL  see answer provided May 28 1990
May 28 1990 Senate 1197 A. re provision of MRI in ACT. Medicare benefited available since July 1985 restricted to services at 7 public hospitals RNSH, RAH, Alfred, RMH, St Vincent's, SCGH URL Observes that the controlled evaluation process is intended to "discourage dissemination of expensive technology."
Sept. 10 1990 Senate 2418 Budget Documents.  URL Speech by Sen. Herron making cursory reference to MRI as a recent medical technology.
Nov. 8 1990 House 3642 COMMUNITY SERVICES AND HEALTH LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1990: Second Reading URL Part 3 of the Bill reflects the results of a review initiated in 1987 into diagnostic services, and ways to control the provision
Nov. 26 1990 Senate 4426 COMMUNITY SERVICES AND HEALTH LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2)  URL Notes that the 1987 review of diagnostic imaging services (that lead to  the concept and practice of introducing MR in a controlled manner) was initiated after RACR  claims that the rapid rise in cost to Medicare form diagnostic services was due to the emergence of self referral radiology  by "medical entrepreneurs "

1991   Health Minister  Neil Blewitt ALP

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
Feb. 1991 House 425 Q. B.Woods Are specific hospitals listed on the schedule for medicare payments ? Do they have machines in operation ? If not why are they listed ? 
A. The sites are listed following a request by the Victorian Government and in anticipation of installations.  Scanners are not in operation, but St Vincent's will install in March and Prince Alfred has plans to purchase.
URL. .
Sept 19 1991 Senate Estimates Committee P 145 Health Advancements:
Senator asks Dr Primrose what is the departments current thinking on MRI as a cancer detection tool. Dr P relies it is good in the CNS but poorer than other methods elsewhere.  It lacks specificity and is not a screening tool
URL Dr Mountford's work on cancer screening with MRS is mentioned

 1992

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
May 7 1992 Senate 2439 Q. What funds were committed to MRI in South Australia as part of the Hospital Enhancement programme ?
A. SA State govt received $4.3m for MRI at Royal Adelaide Hospital, and Flinders Medical Centre
URL This amount probably included the (approx.) $2.2M of funds for the HPG at both institutions which left $2.1M for purchase of a new scanner at RAH
Nov. 25 1992 Senate 3527 Medicare Levy Amendment Bill URL Sen. Herron debating the Medicare model (based on the Canadian universal health care system) uses the waiting time for MRI as evidence that MEdicare is failing.  He cites the waiting time in Canada as 3 months and noted a 5 month waiting time in W.A. 

1993

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment

1994

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
Feb 2 1994 House 255 Q. The opposition asks why was the Medicare rebate for MRI withdrawn, why is there a 6 month waiting list, why are private MRI scanners (charging $500-$900 per scan) not eligible for MRI funding.
A. The Medicare rebate was an interim measure for the period of initial assessment.  In July 92 a system of grants to States were used for funding MRI (HPG).  Waiting times in Victoria are 4 weeks for routine exams and there is no evidence of waiting times longer than that.  New MRI scanners in NSW are due on line soon.
The Govt target of 18 scanners nationally (one per 1,000,000 people) will be operating by late 94.
URL The answer should be read in full.  It is a thorough summary fo MRI funding policy in Australia under the Labor government, to that point
March  14 1994 Senate 1496 MOPI: Medicare Levy. Govt. moves to increase the level of the Medicare levy are criticized as a sign that Medicare is not a workable system.   Waiting times for MRI are cited as evidence that the system is failing URL Similar logic to that used by Sen Herron on Nov 25 1992.  At this stage MRI was not funded under Medicare but under Health Programme grants as detailed in the debate of Feb 2 1994
May 5 1994 House 405 Question on Notice: Will the Govt act to reduce Medical Costs, and will it act to reduce charges made by doctors?
Health Expenditure increased by 10.42% p.a. (current prices) and 3.9% p.a. in real terms.  Total health costs 91/92 $33.2 billion or @$1904 per person.  Govt policy is to restrict high costs technology to restrain total health costs.
URL Statement of ALP approach to arrival of high cost medical technology.  Puts ALP policy to emerging technology.
See last line : "The Government will continue to promote efficiency in the delivery, pricing and funding of health care, and at the same time, continue to seek to improve the quality and appropriateness of care and health outcomes for patients"
June 2 1994 Senate 1278 Q. Is there a review of MRI funding in progress? Who is conducting the review ? What does the RACR want? URL RACR had requested Govt. apply a Medicare fee. Govt refused and explained present policy. Answer claims 14 public scanners The cost for MRI services (federal) for 94/5 was $21.5M

1995

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
March 1 1995 Senate 1174 Q. O'Chee (Nat) Does the government have any plans to change MRI funding for North Queensland ?
A. The Govt. policy is to introduce expensive technology in a controlled way.
URL The government senator noted that this is not the first time private operators have introduced expensive technology and tried to force the provision of Medicare benefits.
March 6 1995 Senate 1375 Answer to Q. re MRI service in Qld and NT, and the policy of the Govt (ALP) to MRI funding URL Explanation of situation. Support for HPG method, Note NT Govt buys scans from private scanner. Announcement of request to AHTAC to review funding at April 95 meeting
May 10 1995 Senate 112 Cursory reference in debate on private and public emergency health centres URL
May 26 1995 Estimates Committee Sen. Woods questions Dept officials on availability of MRI services in Australia URL

1996
Health Minister : Dr Carmen Lawrence ALP, followed by Dr. Michael Wooldridge Lib.

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
January 31 1996 Press Release Dr Lawrence opening MRI facility at Princess Alexandra Hospital announces extra health funding for States. URL .
May 29 1996 House 1806 What is being done to ensure Liverpool and South West Sydney has access to adequate MRI services?  URL NSW has 4 units funded under the HPG programme and a review of MRI services is underway (AHTAC)
See also Media release 1999
Sept. 10 1996 House 3830 Betaferon listed on Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule for treatment of remitting, relapsing multiple sclerosis with 2 documented attacks over 2 years proven on MRI URL .
Oct. 14 1996 House 5307 Petition on supplying Betaferon to treat multiple sclerosis URL .
Dec. 13 1996 House 1806 Cursory reference URL .

1997   Health Minister: Dr Michael Wooldridge Lib.

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
March 17 1997 Senate 1619 Cursory reference to MRI in Euthanasia debate, pointing out that diagnostic methods can be wrong URL .
June 24 1997 House Health Insurance Amendment Bill . Wooldridge recounts a dinner conversation with the Health Minister of Johannesburg concerning her daughter having MRI for headache. URL Johannesburg has about the same number of MRI scanners as Australia, but the story is offered as a sign of overuse.
Oct. 1 1997 Press release Text of Wooldridge's address to the Canberra press Club URL Insignificant repeat of Johanesburg story.
Nov. 14 1997 Press Release Announcement of research grants, including $600,000 over 3 years for Dr Caroline Mountford's MRRI  URL .

1998   Health Minister: Dr Michael Wooldridge Lib.

Date Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
April 16 1998 Economic Review Committee Funding of replacement nuclear reactor URL MRI discussed as a replacement for nuclear medicine techniques, thus reducing the need for production of medical isotopes
April 16 1998 Economic Review Committee Funding of replacement nuclear reactor URL More as above by Dr Chatterton, nuclear medicine physician, arguing that nuc med is cheaper and often better than MRI
May 5 1998 House Committee Consideration on Health cost agreement between States and Federal Government URL WA senator citing MRI as an expensive developing technology that the States largely fund before attracting federal attention.  Argument doesn't appear to be logical
May 12 1998 Budget Papers Budget Measures in Health & Family Services URL .
May 12 1998 Budget Papers Economic & Fiscal Outlook Statements URL Under measures to result in savings:
agreement with the diagnostic imaging profession to limit servicing costs while improving access to magnetic resonance imaging services. 
May 12 1998 Budget papers Summary of budget measures and costs over 3 years URL .
May 12 1998 Budget Papers Outlays: Statistical Statement URL .
May 12 1998 Press Release Health Budget press release detailing announcements for health URL Includes change of funding for MRI in the context of an agreement with the RACR to limit growth in Diagnostic Imaging costs in real terms
May 12 1998 Press Release Summary of Health budget URL
May 13 1998 House 3180 Questions following Budget speech.  MRI listed as a benefit to the community URL "Introduction of MRI rebate in a controlled manner, unlike CT"
June 16 1998 Joint committee Discussion  of communications with Norfolk Island and the requirements of teleradiology URL Cursory reference
November 23 1998 House 464 Discussion on the dangers of boxing and moves to ban child participation. URL MRI confirms autopsy evidence of diffuse brain damage in boxers.
September 1 1998 Press Release Wooldridge announces new rebates for MRI services URL Fee of $475 per scan including a component for capital costs.  Expected services to be available form 78 sites.
November 30 1998 Economic Review Committee Funding of replacement nuclear reactor URL Dr Green (?) argues strongly that nuclear medicine should be replaced by non isotope radiology including MRI
December 23 1998 Press release Wooldridge offers support for an MRI scanner at Liverpool Hospital.  Funds to be provided from the adjustment and relocation scheme announced in may 1998 budget. URL After the October 1999 debate and ministerial statements the resulting establishment of the 1999 MRI review appears to have reversed the decision to proceed with a new scanner at Liverpool

1999    Health Minister: Dr Michael Wooldridge Lib.

Date  Chamber / Page No. Issue URL Comment
Feb. 9 1999 House 2190 Q.Jenny Macklin asks:
Are you aware of concerns that some radiologists had inside or early knowledge of the MRI funding conditions.? 
A. Michael Wooldridge: Yes the HIC is aware of those rumours.
URL Start of the "Scan Scam" debate in the political arena
Feb. 9 1999 House 2191 HIC says decision to decision to extend Medicare eligibility to scanners under contract not installed was made by the Minister.
Q. Were any of the people under investigation by the HIC , involved in the pre budget negotiations ?
Wooldridge A. doesn't know who is under investigation and will not enquire while the investigation is in progress.
URL This statement was later contested vigorously by the opposition. 
Wooldrideg saya that anyone making false statutory declarations will be prosecuted.  He states that "decision (to include ordered scanners) was one of fairness—that people who had placed a genuine order should be able to have it arrive in Australia"
Feb. 10 1999 House 2347 Opposition Leader asks why investigations into 15 suspect purchase contracts are taking so long. URL Mention of the Cap agreement between RACR and Govt acting to limit the effect of over claiming from extra MRI scanners.
Wooldridge says CAP agreement will include MRI Scans. This statement appears to be contradicted later
Feb. 10 1999 House 2351 MOPI Beazley .on the accountability of the Howard Government. Refers to MRI machines costing $3.5 M and accruing Medicare fees of $1.5 M p.a. Draws comparison with the Centrelink scams and the poor investigation record of the government. URL  Mr Beazley discusses the performance of government ministers and the Prime Minister's lack of resolve to hold them accountable for errors.
N.B. MRI machines don't cost $3.5M each.  A more typiacl figure would be $2-2.5M.
Feb. 11 1999 House 25135 Q Asking if the Minister instigated an enquiry into 15 suspect MRI Purchase contracts to determine if the were signed by the appropriate date, and binding 
? A. Wooldridge. " I didn't instigate an investigation, ...the investigation occurring is a normal examination of process (by the HIC).
The HIC reported to the minister that to date (10/2/22) there is no reason to believe anybody had advanced information about the MRI funding policy conditions announced in the budget.
URL This statement would be later questions in house and senate.
Feb. 11 1999 House 2514 Q. McClelland Has there been 21 new scanners contracted for purchase in a very short time.  Is the Minister aware or widespread industry rumours that some people had acted on inside knowledge of the Budget decision to effect these orders just before budget ?
A. Wooldridge. No evidence that the units were ordered in the weeks before budget, they were ordered in the 12 months before budget.   Wooldridge denies and refutes any allegation of a leak from his office
URL Scanner Numbers
62 sites around Feb. 1998, 21 new orders known of by Feb. 99.
Total 83 compared to the figure of  78 given in Sept 98
The assertion about when these scanners were ordered is later proved to be incorrect.
Feb. 11 1999 House 2516 Opposition first requests dates of suspect contracts.
Minister explains decision to investigate contracts taken before the budget. (measures to asses proper conduct) 
URL Comparison of level of MRI service with Germany US ,Japan.
Minister had no evidence of a rush of orders.
Later reports prove that to be incorrect
Minister claims it takes 12 months between order and operation.
Feb. 11 1999 House 2519 Beazley
Is there any correspondence evaluating  the risk of over expenditure on MRI ?
Wooldridge asserts that the MRI decision cannot cause over expenditure as the full radiology costs to Medicare (including the MRI amounts)  are globally capped.
URL This is the second mention of a cap on radiology including MRI.  At this stage members of RACR appeared to believe that MRI funding was uncapped.   Later it was clear that the Govt. was to carry the cost of overspending on MRI, so the  expenditure was not capped at all and the projected budget saving was at risk.  The Auditor General's Report critsized the Dept for not assessing the risk of overexpenditure.
16 Feb. 1999 House 2832 Q. Macklin. Didn't Dr Wooldridge admit (15/2/99) that there were people who knew the MRI Rebate decision before it was announced at Budget ?
A.Wooldridge. Absolutely not.
URl  Wooldridge says his public statemets since Oct 97 were that he would try to find funding for MRI.  THis was common knowledge.
Feb. 16 1999 House 2831 Macklin Q What was discussed with the President and other members of the RACR in the fortnight before the 1988 budget release?
Wooldridge I had a meeting in that period (May 5th), the College made their points  we (Health) didn't tell them what we would do.
URL Wooldridge's answer to this question would be later questioned heavily.  There are indications that there were more than one meetings in that period.  The significance of the answer is probably more political than economic.
Feb. 16 1999 House 2833 Macklin Q Will the budget provision for MRI blow out from $19.5M to $59.5M because of extra scanners?  Present scanners (18) perform 11,000 scans per month and the budget allows for 10,000 per month with more scanners.
A. There is no blow out. Iit is predicted that we will be under 120,000 scans in the worst case.  The 3 year estimate of 403,000 scans looks about right
.Wooldridge also says: "We would never have got the radiologists on board for the cooperative approach that they have taken to help us in other areas unless we funded MRI" 
URL A question aimed at exposing the budget's underestimation of the number of allowable scanners and the capacity of each to generate Medicare chargeable services. The question reflects concerns of many in the public hospital sector on analysing the budget announcement.  In Feb99 the HIC discounted the possibility of an MRI cost over run.  There assumptions were based on Medicare claims for Oct. to Dec 98.  This opinion was to change significantly later
Wooldridges aanswer strongly linked MRI and the Diagnostic Imaging agreement.  MRI funding was the sweetner for the DI deal.
The Federal government appears to underwrite any risk of exceeding scan targets.
March 8 1999 Senate 2321 Q. Contrasting the approaches to consultation with professional groups. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) , the peak medical organization in Australia was not contacted during the preparation of the Health legislation Amendments Bill No.4, but lobbying and close consultation was allowed from the RANZCR on the MRI decision. URL  .
March 10 
 
 
 

1999

Senate 2598 Repeat of attempt to get the signature dates of recent MRI purchase contracts as notified to the Health Dept URL  This move would escalate but not be satisfied until the release of HIC reports and the end of investigations
May 19 1999 Press release Wooldridge
Address to Symposium of Health Insurance Fund Managers. 
URL Includes the note to himself to:
"make special mention of the Pathology Agreement and last years agreement about Diagnostic Imagining and MRI scanners. Despite what's often said and thought, ageing is not the biggest driver in costs in health but an increased demand for new technology. "
May 27 1999 Press Release Macklin.Asserting that a radiology cost blow out is due  in particular to excessive MRI scanners., and that Radiologists indicate that moves to maintain the DI agreement by reducing Medicare rebates will result  in increased patient contributions (the billed price will remain).  Other "capped agreements are also failing ot meet limits URL .
June 8 1999 House 6253 Macklin. Response to health section of the 99/2000 budget. Figures given document blow out in Radiology costs to Medicare over past 3 years.  URL  The DI agreement was overspent by $35 M in the first year, CT and US costs are up substantially.
MRI claims were at 13,000 per month, with more machines to come on line. Senate Committe figures say 31 units were ordered just before the budget night May 1998.
Sept. 27 1999 House 895 Procedural record Wooldridge Tabled documents
Letter from Dr. J Earwaker Acting President of RACR to  Dr Wooldridge dated May 15 1998
Statutory Declaration from Ms Penny Rogers 27/9/99 re meetings with RACR
e-mail from Ms R Davis (ex employee of HIC) to K Smith  dated 28/9/99
URL .
Sept. 27 1999 Press release Macklin "MRI Cover-Up Starts to Unravel"
Newspaper reports quote Dr Peter Carr saying that the Minister communicated his budget decicion (to include ordered scanners) to Radiologists at an informal meting in early May (May 6th)
The documets tabled in Parliament refute that allegation, so there is an urgent need for a proper investigation.
URL .
Sept. 28 1999 House 10752 Macklin asks what the RACR knew about the budget decision before it was announced. URL Wooldridge asserts that RACR representatives at the May 6th meeting knew there would be a supply side measure, but didn't know what it would be and were told clearly that even that much information must be confidential until the budget announcement.
Sept. 28 1999 House 10753 Question asking if members of the RACR Executive or MRI task force held 14 of the 31 contracts for the purchase of MRI scanners.
Will the Minister tell the house the dates  fo the 31 suspect contracts?  Has the HIC compiled its report and referred 1 case to DPP?
Wooldridge said he didn't think the HIC had to release information, but confirmed one case already referred to DPP because of possible backdating of contract.  Wooldridge says that Backdating proves that in that ase there was no advance knowledge, or at least no effective action on that knowledge. 
URL Backdating could also occur if there was non-specific pre budget information, i.e. knowledge that there would be some form side restriction (ineffective action)  Or the modification of a contract based on the budget announcement. 
Sept. 28 1999 House 10754 Macklin. following from the  statutory declaration by Penny Rogers, tabled on Sept 27. Why aren't proper records or minutes of significant meetings kept ?
Wooldridge : Such matters are not my concern
URL  The poor record keeping of the Department were later critisized in the Auditor General's report
Sept. 29 1999 House 913 Procedural record Wooldridge tabled Statutory Declaration by Ms R.A. David re meetings with RACR URL Offered in response to earlier questions form Macklin re minutes of meetings between Wooldridge, HIC, and the RACR.
Sept. 29 1999 Press Release Macklin: Minister Admits Radiologists had  Knowledge
SAys that Wooldridge stated a manufacturer (un named) was urging Radiologists to place orders before the budget stating they had received specific inside knowledge on the impending budget policy.
URL The Manufacturer in the allegation has never been publicly identified.  the information was gained from a sent by a former employee of an MRI supply company.
Sept. 30 1999 House 11094 Further attempt to explore the possibility of a pre budget leak.  Statement the speculation, by  an MRI supply company, that there would be a supply side restriction on scanners started in Feb 98.  i.e. before the issue of including contracted scanners was raised with the Minister. URL Further linking of MRI and the radiology cap agreement.
Wooldridge said that the DI agreement was yielding  savings,( despite the assertions made by the opposition spokesperson.)
Sept. 30 1999 House11095 Beazley asked if the Health minister was aware that 14 of the new MRI machines were purchased by companies associated with members of the RACR executive?
Howard (PM) answered No and supported his Minister's integrity
URL .
30 Sept. 1999 Senate Notice Paper 74 Questions placed on notice Sept. 29.
Answered in the Senate December 6th 1999
URL Go to end of the document to find  Questions 1641-1651. Re who Dr Wooldridge discussed budget plans with. Some radiologists are named in the questions
Oct. 11 1999 House 11210 Q. What steps are being taken to determine the financial impact of the budget measures on MRI funding ? 
A. The HIC is determining how many contracts would benefit from the decision to include scanners ordered but not installed by May 12 1998.  the normal expenditure review committee process is being applied. 
URL The answer also states that the Minister for Finance and Resources considers that MRI costs are included with the DI agreement and are capped.  This is used to imply that no matter what the oppostion say abou this issue it isn't financially significant.
Oct. 12 1999 House 11305 Q. How many contracts were signed between May 6th and May 12 1998 
A. Wooldridge did not confirm any contract details, as it may compromise the current investigation.
URL Reference is made in the question, to a purchase contract signed just hours before the budget announcement.
Oct. 12 1999 House 11305 Q Was the Minister aware that Radiologists he spoke to in a pre budget meeting (May 6) were involved in MRI service provisions.  Why were they not asked to declare confilcts of interest?
A. I can't be expected to know about their practice details.
URL The lack of clear statements on these Drs. conflict of interest and secrecy obligations was later commented upon by the Auditor General's report.
Oct. 12 1999 House 11306 Q Why didn't the Minister ask about their interest in MRI? URL Because the negotiations were at an end
 Oct. 12 1999  Press release  Macklin "Minister Backs Into a Corner"  URL  "Sources close to the radiology industry have informed the Opposition that many contracts were signed after the final meeting on 6th May 1998 between the Minister and the radiologists. 
In fact one contract was allegedly signed just six hours before the budget. "
Oct. 13 1999 Senate  9588 Q. Evans Were negotiating parties required to declare pecuniary interests and make undertakings of confidentiality
A. Herron No
URL  91 new machines have been installed under Lib Govt Vs the 18 funded under HPG with an ALP Govt  Comments
Oct.13 1999 Senate 9590 Q.Evans What is the outcomes of  investigations by the HIC into 31 MRI purchases 
A. Herron Investigation began ? April 99, Conclusion was expected in June 99, now expected Nov. 99
URL Sen. Herron cites 
92 registered machines with 84 currently accessing funds.
1 case referred to DPP for suspected backdating of contract
Other cases of suspected backdating being pursued
Oct. 14 1999 House 11570 Health Insurance Amendment (Diagnostic Imaging Services) Bill 1999 Second Reading
Comments focus on the feasability of Radiologist to provide sufficient quality assurance.
Reference to MRI is cursory
URL  Opposition Spokesperson calls fro consultation with radiographers when developing diagnostic Imaging policy and better standarsd for "rural services"
Oct. 18 1999 House 11746 Opposition Leader seek leave to move a censure motion against Minister of Health URL Direct censure motion defeated. Motion to enable censure debate passed. First reading follows.
Oct. 18 1999 Senate 955 Procedural. Notice Tabling Documents & Votes
Tabled Minute from HIC J.Harmer "Applications for Approval of MRI Equipment
Letter from Barry Catchlove, Chair HIC
URL Debates and Speeches in following listings
Oct. 18 1999 House 11742 Health Ministers statement outlining the unacceptable proliferation of scanners, and Govt decisions to alter MRI funding arrangements as of Nov. 1 99, and investigations into validity of MRI purchase contracts  URL Acknowledgement of the "scan scam" The issue breaks, after continuous opposition attention since the senate committee hearings of Feb. 99. 
J.Harmer's minutes indicate that the HIC has been notified about  111 scanners
Oct. 18 1999 House 11744 Macklin Response to Ministerial Statement. Asserts Wooldridge displayed Ministerial incompetence URL Macklin says 111 scanners is double what the AHTAC report called for
Oct. 18 1999 Press Release Wooldridge "Minister Slams Allaeged MRI Scam"
Pess release summarizing his statement in the house  explaining the discovery of an unacceptable number of MRI scanners.
URL 52 applications for new  MRI scanners (uninstalled but supposedly under contract before May 12 1998 )  including 13 lodged in October 1999
Oct. 18 1999 Press Release Transcript of Interview of Kim Beazley and Jenny Macklin
Call for Royal Commisssion.  "Biggest Scam in living memory"
Could cost $150 M
URL .
Oct. 19 1999 House 963 Procedural paper.  Notice of  Motion to Censure the Health Minister Michael Wooldridge for misleading Parliament, careless action to allow financial gain from inside knowledge, failure to take Dept advice to stop rort. URL Summary of motions and results of division.
Motions defeated.  Debates listed below.
Oct. 19 1999 House 999 Order of Business 
Lists the censure motion, voting results (defeated) and  the
tabling of Documents
URL Dr Wooldridge's Diary for week beginning May 5th 1999 (should this be the diary of 1998?
Oct. 19 1999 House 11819 Macklin Asserting that the sudden increase in MRI scanner orders can be explained by insider knowledge of the budget decision.
Wooldridge Says he has no evidence to suggest a budget leak, but that there is some evidence to suggest backdating of contracts and contracts that are non binding.
URL The debate  on inside knowledge and false contracts remains the most politically significant one.  Wooldridge asserts there is no possibility of a budget blow out due to the capped funding agreement.  back dated contracts would imply fraud or wrong doing by purchasers  by making contracts after the budget announcement.  Passing conditional contracts as binding would represent another fraud on a contract made before the budget.
Inside knowledge, would come from a budget leak, and that would imply improper behaviour or incompetence of the health department or minister. during the pre budget decision making, ...or a breach of confidentiality by radiologists or others involved in the approved pre budget discussions.
Oct. 19 1999 House 11820 Macklin Questions regarding a budget leak URL  same answer
Oct. 19 1999 House 11821 Leak Question URL  Wooldridge will await HIC report and seek advice of teh Auditor General and teh Australian Government Solicitor.
Oct. 19 1999 House 11822 Macklin Q Will the Auditor General's Probity enquiry examine the conduct of the Minister and his Office ?
Wooldridge " The AG may do as he wishes
URL  .
Oct. 19 1999 House 11823  If the AG enquiry constituted under section 20 of the AG act, it will not be able to compel witnesses to attend or produce documents, therefore the opposition calls for a Royal Commission URL .Wooldridge says there is no grounds for a Royal Commission as there is no evidence of wrong doing
Oct. 19 1999 House 11824 Response to statement on AM (Australian radio news programme)-
Q. Will Wooldridge release details of the 48 contracts evidently signed between the 10th and 12th May 1998 ?
A. Wooldridge said the HIC advise was to release nothing at this stage.
URL .
Oct. 19 1999 House 11825 Macklin Did the Health Minister have an informal private meeting with the College of Radiologits but without HIC staff? 
Wooldridge No
URL  See later
Oct. 19 1999 House 11826 Q Were fund-raising events organized by 2 people (named in Hansard) who are linked with MRI purchases , and who were appointees to positions in the NHMRC and Medibank Private
A.Woodlridge Yes one did organise fundraising. (later refuted in parliament) 
URL Wooldridge states " I don't believe I spoke to any Radiologists other than the meeting with RANZCR May 5-12." Wooldridge was first told by the HIC of the likelihood of a supply side measure on May 5th 1998
It later became clear that teh person in question did not arrange the dinner. See October 20th
Oct. 19 1999 House 11826 Censure Motion by Beazley.  4 charges
  • he deliberately or carelessly caused a situation in which people in the radiology industry were able to take advantage of inside knowledge to contract for those machines;
  • this knowledge enabled radiologists and manufacturers to enter into advantageous arrangements, and the minister failed to take reasonable checks to protect the public purse
  • the minister failed to act appropriately when warned by his department immediately before the 1998 budget and delayed investigation of this problem until far too late

  • fourthly, since being first challenged on these issues by us in this House as early as 9 February this year, the minister for health has deliberately and misleadingly obfuscated on his role in the negotiations and on the consequences to the budget bottom line. 
URL Speech says 
May 12 1998 there were  59 operating scanners
52 orders notified to the department
48 of these were ordered after negotiations with RACR began
Oct. 19 1999 House 11836 Censure debate motion  Speech and voting URL rhetorical speach
Oct. 19 1999 House 11844 Procedural text . MOPI  Call for Royal Commission URL .
Oct. 19 1999 Senate 9914 Evans Q Do you stand by your previous comments in the light of Wooldridge's Ministerial Statement.
Herron A
URL This sort of question marked the session in the senate.  It tries to sort out the validity of previous statements , or it tries to catch out or harass the parliamentarians, depending on your opinion.
Oct. 19 1999 Senate 9916 Question trying to find out who initiated the HIC investigation process into MRI purchase contracts, and the value placed on the "anonymous" tip off, disclosed in Senate Estimates committee in May 4 1999 URL Debate at this stage was quite heated.  The answers given later by Wooldridge in the House gave rise to sustained questing and claims of misleading parliament.  Essentially the opposition was trying to establish what the Minister and his departmental officers knew when they were addressing the senate estimates review committees on this issue in February 1999
Oct. 19 1999 Senate 9924 Move to take note of answer to a question. Debate follows. URL debate recounts ALP view of the Minister's handling of the case
Oct. 19 1999 Senate 9926 The opposition question in part inferred that the Minister personally advised Radiologists to buy scanners before the budget.
The answer defended the Minister's personal position denying the claim, and mentions the new regulations that removed eligibility for rebate from sites under contract after Feb 1998
URL Difficult to see why this claim was made.  It does give an indication of the level of agitation entering debate on the issue.
Oct. 19 1999 Senate 9927 Sen. Foreshaw "It is becoming clear there was inside knowledge" (of the budget decision to restrict access). Call for Royal Commission or resignation of the Health Minister. URL .
Oct. 19 1999 Senate 9929 TCHEN  debate URL Nothing of note except bilateral confusion
Oct. 19 1999 Senate 9929 Debate from above briefly summarizing events URL Says AHTAC (97) called inceased acces to MRI in the rural areas
Oct. 19 1999 Press release Howard (Prime Minister)Interview transcript
Mr Howard gives his full support of Wooldridge
URL Comments on the defeat of Jeff Kennett in Victoria
Oct. 19 1999 Press release Beazley (leader of Opposition) Interview transcript
Mr Beazley repeats calls for  a Royal Commission and teh assertion that something has gone wrong.
URL .
Oct. 20 1999 House 1021 1. Macklin moves for Wooldridge's letter to the Auditor General regarding Probity enquiry to be tabled.
2. Call for the investigation  to include powers to summons people against their will, obtain documents, require answers under oath, allow cross examination and investigate the action of the Minister and his staff, as well as other Ministers and staff 
3. If not then call for a Royal Commission
URL Procedural entry.  Motions defeated without debate
Oct. 20 1999 House 1028 Procedural note listing questions to be asked and documents to be tabled by  Dr Wooldridge (1,2) and Ms Macklin (3),Wooldridge (1) 
Wooldridge announces the chair of the 1999 MRI Review committee (Prof J. Blanford)
URL 1. Letter to Auditor general requesting probity enquiry.  Apparently includes the assertion that While the negotiations were of a confidential nature, it was recognized that formal confidentiality agreements for the college's negotiators would be inappropriate because of their need to consult the college membership more widely on aspects of the agreement. quoted in Macklin MOPI 20/20/99
2. Update of HIC investigations,  J.Harmer
3. RANZCR Executive Council Minutes 12 April 1999 quoted in Macklin MOPI 20/20/99
Oct. 20 1999 House 11923 Cursory reference to poor accounting practices of Howard government, citing MRI as an example URL .
Oct 20 1999 House 11979 Q. If 16 of the 29 contracts were possibly backdated or conditional, what is the problem with the other 13 ?
A. Not enough evidence to warrant examination by the DPP
URL .
Oct 20 1999 House 11981 If backdated and non binding contracts account for the majority of cases under investigation Prior statement by Wooldridge), What accounts for the rest, could they represent cases of inside knowledge A. Wooldridge The HIC says there is no evidence of inside knowledge, the majority of contracts don't currently show enough evidence to warrant referral to the DPP URL .
Oct 20 1999 House 11983 Question regarding a meeting between Minister ,and the RACR, suggesting that Wooldridge sided with the RACR against the technical advise of his officers .
A The minister chose a policy in line with the advise of the AHTAC
URL The relationship between the recommendations of the AHTAC report and the policy announced on budget night 1988 deserves considered debate.  The implemented policy certainly reflects some of the AHTAC data and the omission of serious consideration of the needs for paediatric MRI services, but it owes more to the concerns of private MRI operators intent on servicing the common complaints rather than applying MRI to medical conditions where it fills a  unique or developing role in clinical practice.
The AHTAC report went largely without public mention until the budget night.
Oct. 20 1999 House 11986 Call of MOPI by Macklin.
The failure of the Minister for Health and Aged Care to follow prudent policy advice and correct procedure in making the 1998 Budget decision to extend Medicare rebates to Magnetic Resonance Imaging services
URL debate follows
Oct. 20 1999 House 11986 MOPI  Debate 
Macklin Assserts that the AHTAC reccomendation have been essentially ignored by the 98 decision and its administration. Macklin asserts there was need for bettter access but no need for more machines. Points out  the lack of geographical control measures to support AHTAC recomendations.  Macklin asserts that the RACR effectively determined MRI funding policy as it didn't like the AHTAC approach and didn't like the HIC primary option.
URL The Dept. probably thought it was implementing a policy that would result in only a few more machines.
macklin quotes from Minutes of the RACR April 21 1998 
Oct 20 1999 House 11989 MOPI M. Wooldridge Comments that while a Minister cannot be compelled to cooperate with the AG report he is willing to do so.
Dr Wooldridge presented letters regarding people mentionned on October 19th who were alleged and to have organized campaign functions and donations. 
URL  .
Oct. 20 1999 House 11992 MOPI Medicare Rebate for MRI Debate ALP URL .
Oct. 20 1999  House MOPI : MRI, Medicare Rebates
R.Cameron  speaks on Diagnostic Imaging service delivery and attempts to outline the Health Minister's action on the AHTAC report
missing URL .
Oct. 20 1999 House 12046 Adjournment debate Macklin. 
Assertion that Wooldridge misled parliament over the powers on the Auditor General's Probity enquiry. Wooldridge stated it would be held under section 20, which allows for lesser powers to collect information and no power to compel witnesses to appear of reply truthfully.
URL First use of the term " Scan Scam" by rephrasing an earlier comment of Minister Wooldridge's.
As it turns out, the Auditor General had raised the issue with the minister and Section 18 powers were conferred 
Oct. 20 1999 Senate Notice Paper Notice that Senator Evans will seek to obtain an order for documents to be produced relating to the questions on notice since Sept. 29 1999 URL The order was obtained see link
Oct. 20 1999 Senate 10038 Q. Evans Why did Minister wait 18 months to act to close off  applications for new scanners ?
A. Herron. the minister acted appropriately
URL Political debate
Oct. 20 1999 Senate 10040 Q. Follow up on previous question about the role of certain people possibly connected to MRI performing fund-raising for the Health Minister URL   A bit of a furfie
Oct. 20 1999 Senate 10041 Q: Was the MRI arrangement one side of an agreement between Radiologists and Govt. ?
Did that imply that the RANZCR were aware at that stage there would be funding for extra MRI ?
 URL missing MRI identified as 4% of cost of Medical Imaging
Mention of Supply side measures and the Medicare capping agreement with the RANZCR.
Claim that MRI was slow in coming to Australia
Comment
Oct. 20 19 99 Senate 1967 Senate Order that Sen Herron produces by Nov. 22 1999 specific documents that would answer the questions on notice since Sept. 29,  URL Specifically, dates all MRI purchase contracts signed, minutes of meetings on MRI funding, advise given the Health Minister by his department.
Oct. 20 1999 Press release Beazley. Transcript of "doorstop" interview
Mr Beazley's remarks stress the point that the government denied there was a problem on many oocaisions since it was raised by the opposition in February 98
URL .
Oct. 20 1999 Press Release Wooldridge "Labor Claims Rubbish"Dr Wooldridge refuted teh claims made by Ms Macklin, that he deliberately tried to restrict the powers of the Auditor General's investigation into the MRI policy decision. URL .
Oct. 20 1999 Press Release Macklin.  "Wooldridge misleads on Auditor-General inquiry"
Elaborates on eth issue of Section 18 or 20 powers.
URL .
1999 continued
Health Minister Dr Michael Wooldridge
Date Chamber Page No Issue URL Comment
Oct 21 1999 House 1052 Procedural Record of the debate to censure  Wooldridge.  Includes the presentation of papers and resuls of vote 
Motion defeated.
URL Memo from Sectretary of Dept of Health & Aged Care to Minister regarding eligibility of machines
Oct. 21 1999 House 12156 Macklin How many RACR executives & MRI task Force members did not have MRI scanners at the beginning of the budget process ?
Wooldridge I don't know
URL Wooldridge said " Radiologists are not at the top of my Christmas card list at the moment, but they are entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
Oct. 21 1999  House 12157 Macklin asks Wooldridge why he won't answer a question in the House regarding members of the College of Radiologists' negotiating group applying to be eligible  providers for MRI machines under contracts dated between 10 February 1998 and 12 May 1998, , when the HIC has provided a written answer to the question in Senate estimates committee saying 4 members of eth RACR group had purchased scanners in that  period. URL The inference is that the minister is covering the facts.  Dr Wooldridge responded by saying that he doesn't seek to influence the HIC, and didn't know that they had identified 4 purchases 
Oct. 21 1999 House 12159 Q.Beazley Does the facts  that 4 members of the  RACR MRI negotiating group applied to be eligible MRI providers on scanners ordered Feb10-May12 1998, prove their was a leak or lack of safeguards ?
A. Wooldridge No
URL Wooldridge states: "if people in the negotiating team tried to benefit, they were foolish."
Nuclear Medicine increases 19% p.a. 1990-96 Radiology increased 10% p.a. 1990-96  CT scanning increased 16% p.a. 1990-96
Feb. 10 1998 identified as the start of ERC sanctioned discussions with RACR, an informal meeting was held in December 97
Oct. 21 1999 House 12162 Opposition leader calls for the Prime Minister to sack the Health Minister. The PM declines. URL .
Oct. 21 199 House 12162 Beazley Censure Motion and debate  URL Interesting a & entertaining reading
Oct. 21 1999 House 12169 Macklin  debate in Censure Motion.  Recounts the advice of AHTAC, and contrasts this with the decisions of the Minister, asserting the Minister didn't follow AHTAC advice because the RACR didn't like it.  URL Identifies 111 machines installed (twice the AHTAC reccomendation)
Many points raised in this speach were confirmed in the AG report. 
Oct. 21 1999 Senate 10181 Question criticizing current policy for not addressing the concentration of MRI scanners in cities.
Are only 3 of the new scanners going to rural areas ? What happened to funds promised to assist  in scanned relocation ?
 URL MRI identified as 4% of the Diagnostic Imaging budget.
Oct. 21 1999 Senate Order for production of documents relating to MRI funding investigations.  URL  Documents required contain some MRI purchase details for contracts under investigation
Oct. 21 1999 Senate 10179 Q. Foreshaw to Herron URL minimal interest. The question uses Senate Estimates committee quotes to ask if the Minister or teh Department officials suggested Statutory  Declarations as the means of assuring machines were eligible.
Oct. 21 1999 Senate 10193 Follow up to question re funding raised by Senator Elliston on Oct 20th  URL Sen reads a letter from Wooldridge refuting implications of improprietry made against members of the public (?) on Oct 19th
Oct. 21 1999 Senate Customs Bill 1999. Second reading. Kerr (ALP) points out an "error" set to cost $450m in 4 years. He observes that this "dwarfs the MRI scam" URL An interesting observation that brings some global budgetary perspective to the MRI scam issue, but not one the government would be happy to note.
Oct. 21 1999 Press Release Wooldridge "ALP Continues with Baseless Accusations" URL Wooldridge denies rejecting the advise of his departmental officers on MRI
Oct. 25 1999 Senate Senate procedure information bulletin No 137 URL Cites MRI debate as 3rd most intense area of debate for the week
Nov 22 1999 Senate Notice Paper 83 Questions on Notice regarding MRI purchases for practices associated with members of the RACR MRI working group URL These questions were initioally asked on September 29th.  They appear in Senate Notice paper 74 (30/9 /99) and remain open until some were answered evasively on December 6th 1999.  See also Senate Report Dec 31 1999
Nov 23 1999 Senate 10393 Senator Herron is asked why he has failed to produce the documents required by Senate Order of October 21st 1999 URL Herron replies that there is an enquiry underway and that it would be improper to table documents on the matter under enquiry.
Nov 24th 1999 Senate 10570 Sen Herron reports an answer to the question on notice regarding MRI rebate applications by the North Shore Diagnostic Centre URL The first evasive answer by Wooldridge to the Senate Question 1641
Nov 25th 1999 Senate 10641 Notice of a motion to dissallow the regulations that created the Oct 11th 1999 cutoff for medical practitioners to complete a statutory declaration to ensure that any diagnostic imaging services that they provide on Magnetic Resonance Imaging Equipment will be eligible for Medicare benefits. URL Sen Coonan (Lib) was concerned that the deadline expired 20 days before the regulations were made, and there is no information that there was prior notification to practitioners.
Nov 29 1999 Senate 10907 Senator Herron asked if he will provide the papers as ordered by the Senate , now that the Clerk of the Senate has rejected his reason for withholding them.  Herron refuses. URL .
Nov 30 1999 Senate 10914 Sen Herron reports and tables a letter to the Clerk of the Senate regarding Minister Wooldridges consideration that there are "issues of public interest immunity in relation to the release of particular papers" relating to a complete answer to Senate Question 1641and hte Senate Order made on Oct 20th URL The Clerk rejects the issues of concern, but the Senate does not receive the required answers or papers
Nov 30th 1999 Senate 11033 Further questions regarding the Clerk of the Senate's conclusion that there is no valid public interest immunity issue for not producing the required documents.  Sen Herron comments that the minister has nothing to add to previous answers.  Minor debate follows URL Confirmation that 17 cases have been sent to the DPP
Nov 30 1999 Senate 11045 Sen Faulkner opens a debate on the secrecy of the Howard Government, citing the refusal to disclose information to the parliament on the MRI budget decision as a prime example. URL Wooldridges reasons for witholding are summarised by the opinion that releasing the requested information "because disclosure of MRI details prejudices the government's relationship with the profession, disclosure could be misleading as to the reasons for the decisions taken, and the information includes information about the affairs of radiologists and the college" See Senate Report Dec 31
Nov 30 1999 Senate 11046 Continuing debate on the Data Warehouse and commenst regarding secrecy over MRI URL .
Nov 30 1999 Senate 11047 Discussion of Govt refusal to produce documents or provide information regarding MRI purchases URL .
Nov 30th 1999 Senate 11048 Continuing debate on the Data Warehouse and commenst regarding secrecy over MRI URL Says that Wooldridge has been "open" in dealing with the MRI issue.
Nov 30th 1999 Senate 11050 Continuing debate on the Data Warehouse and commenst regarding secrecy over MRI URL Little to do with MRI
Nov 30 1999 Senate 11133 Answer to the Question on notice regarding MRI rebate applications for one machine by North Shore Diagnostic Centre. This answer is a repeat of that given on Nov 29 Senate 10570 URL North Shore Diagnostic Centre has not applied for Medicare rebates as these aplications are made by providers (reporting radiologists) not by a practice. A correct yet evasive answer
December 1st 1999 See Senate Estimates Committe DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND AGED CARE: Outcome 2--Access to Medicare Detailed Below Link
December 1st 1999 Press Release Macklin Health Department had early warning of scan scam URL Reports that the Opposition tabled letters in the the Estimaes committe from aradiologist in October 98 warning of insider knowledge, and that there were documentary warnings  as far back as August 98.  Reports 17 cases referred to DPP.
The radiologist is named in the estimates committee transcript page 59
December 6th 1999 Senate 11272 Answer to the Question on notice regarding MRI rebate applications for two sites by Pittwater Radiology URL Pittwater had not applied for rebates as these aplications are made by providers (reporting radiologists) not by a practice. A correct yet evasive answer.
December 6th 1999 Senate 11272 Answer to the Question on notice regarding MRI rebate applications for one site by Radclin Radiology URL Radclin had not applied for rebates as these aplications are made by providers (reporting radiologists) not by a practice. A correct yet evasive answer.
December 6th 1999 Senate 11273 Answer to the Question on notice regarding MRI rebate applications for two sites by Victoria Imaging Group (VIG) URL VIG had not applied for rebates as these aplications are made by providers (reporting radiologists) not by a practice. A correct yet evasive answer.
December 6th 1999 Senate 11273 Answer to the Question on notice regarding MRI rebate applications  for one site by Kos, Ingle & Gordon URL Koss,Ingle & Gordon had not applied for rebates as these aplications are made by providers (reporting radiologists) not by a practice. A correct yet evasive answer.
December 6th 1999 Senate 11273 Answer to the Question on notice regarding MRI rebate applications for one site by Geelong Radiological Clinic URL Geelong Radiological Clinic had not applied for rebates as these aplications are made by providers (reporting radiologists) not by a practice. A correct yet evasive answer.
December 6th 1999 Senate 11273 Answer to the Question on notice regarding MRI rebate applications for one site by Perth Imaging Centre URL Perth Imaging Centre had not applied for rebates as these aplications are made by providers (reporting radiologists) not by a practice. A correct yet evasive answer.
December 6th 1999 Senate 11274 Answer to the Question on notice regarding MRI rebate applications for one site by Perth Radiological Clinic URL Perth Radiological Clinic had not applied for rebates as these aplications are made by providers (reporting radiologists) not by a practice. A correct yet evasive answer.
December 6th 1999 Senate 11274 Answer to the Question on notice regarding MRI rebate applications for four sites by Queensland X-Ray Service URL Queensland Xray Services had not applied for rebates as these aplications are made by providers (reporting radiologists) not by a practice. A correct yet evasive answer.
December 8th 1999 House 13085 Macklin asks Wooldridge why in Feb 99 he told teh house the allegations were anonymous and unsubstantiated when his department had on hand a letter from a specific radiologist (named) dated Oct 1998.  Wooldridge said he was correct in February as he was talking about other allegations and letters received in December 98 URL .
December 8th 1999 House 13086 Macklin asks Wooldridge if after several months he has determined if at least 4 machines were ordered by members of the RACR Task Force, and if the chairman of the task force ordered four scanners? URL Wooldridge says he doesn't have detailed information and that those concerned deserve to be considered innocent till proven guilty ( adding that such a purchase would have been " incredibly foolish" )
December 8th 1999 House 13146 Wooldridge makes a clarrifying statement regarding earlier answers in question time
"some representations have been made to my office on this matter. One includes a representation from Dr Dubois's solicitors. These representations were not drawn to my attention, because it was believed it would be quite improper for me, as minister, to get actively involved in any Health Insurance Commission investigation."
URL .
December 9th 1999 Senate 11574 Debate on the new Tax System. Opposition comments URL Includes a side reference to the MRI scam as one example of "incompetence on issues of major public policy"
December 9th 1999 House 13281 Macklin asks why Wooldridge how long  his office has retained significant evidence, and was this material provided to the Auditor General. Wooldridge says the AG can have anything he wants, and that everything relevant has been passed on to appropriate departments. URL .
December 9th 1999 House 13283 Macklin asks why Wooldridge still regards the letters as unsubstantiated rumours.  Wooldridge says they contain no specific facts, just allegations. URL AS an example Wooldridge quotes one unspecified letter as saying "We are concerned that some or all of these contracts may not be genuine, but of course we have no tangible evidence."
December 9th 1999 House 13284 Beazley asks Wooldridge if he created the trigger for the scan scam by not insisting the radiologists involved in pre budget negotiations maintain confidentiality.  Wooldridge responded that he did not need to as he had permission to negotiate with them.  ?? URL The Auditor General report also critisizes the lack of any measure to ensure confidentiality.
December 9th 1999 House 13284 Attempt to censure the Health Minister (Wooldridge) URL  motion defeated before debate
December 8th 1999 House 1162 Formal record of censure motion and votes URL .
December 13 1999 Senate Procedural Bulletin 138 The refusal to produce documents when ordered is summarised. URL The bulleting appears satisfied with the answers provided around December 6th
December 24th 1999 Press release
Macklin
"How Dr. Wooldridge has changed his tune" URL Critical of Wooldridge for avoiding the issue for 10 months, then recognising this matter is poosibly the largest case of Medicare fraud.
December 31 1999 Senate Practice Report Chapter 18 A summary of the business of the Senate Session particularloy relating to the presentation of documents  The principal grounds were risk of prejudice to administrative inquiries and the confidentiality of the governments relationship with the medical profession. URL  Advices from the Clerk of the Senate suggested that these grounds were novel and lacking in cogency. The matter was extensively explored at an estimates hearing, and the advices were released. (21/10/1999, J.1967; 29/11/1999, J.2123; Community Affairs Legislation Committee, estimates Hansard, 1/12/1999, pp 51-3) 
December 31 1999 Senate Practice Report Chapter 18 The government's refusal to submit ordered documents to the Senate is further mentioned URL .

December 1st 1999
Senate Estimates Committee  DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND AGED CARE: Outcome 2--Access to Medicare

Page Issue URL Comment
Page 43 1 case referred to DPP 12 pending referral. Dr Waltzaff says he was surprised by eth number of scanners notified tothe HIC 18 months after the initial budget cut off date (May 12 1998).  Sen Evans leads a discussion that tries to find a reasonable explanation why a machine ordered over 18 months earlier would have been such a secret for so long.  The comments also point out that dealing with eth rush of orders has overshadowed teh basis for the decision to support more machines, i.e. the need identified by the AHTAP report, to expand the geographioacl distribution of MRI services. URL .
Page 45 Discussion of the diffference between the number of scanners installed and the reportable claims by providers to claim Medicare rebates using those machines.  The HIC makes it clear that it has no information on the number of scans provided in the private sector before the 1998 budget change, apart from the 1997 AHTAC report.  Senator Evans observes that he asked about practices rather than individual radiologists as he "got the College of Radiologists a bit upset every time I named a particular radiologist I thought I was safer sticking to the practices. I have already had one privileges complaint about my questions" URL
Page 47 Mr Podger is questioned by Sen Evans on his unhelpful response to the questions made in the senate regarding applications made for MRI rebates by certain radiology practices. See answers as they were formally given in the Senate on December 6th. The discussion cl;arifies the situation where one machine will be matched by applications from many radiologists, and one radiologist will make multiple applications with regard to providing MRI services on several machines. URL
Page 59 Discussion of why the HIC commenced investigations into alegations of fraudulent behaviour. Names the radilogist who wrote one of the letters.  URL
Page 61
Page 63 URL
Page 71 Identifies $23,000,000 paid for MRI service July to October 1999 against full year budget of $57M.  The removal of eligibility for machines purchased after Feb 10th 1998 and before May 12, means the total expenditure should remain near the target of the DIA.  Answers indicate that 4 members of eth RANZCR negotiating team have applied to become MR eligible providers on at least one machine on applications up to June.  Further questioning failed to get more information. URL
Page 79 URL
Page 81 URL

2000  Health Minister Michael Wooldridge

Date Chamber/Page Issue URL Comment
Feb 15 2000 House Notice Paper URL Question asking if Medicare savings will be used to fund further MRI services. Appears in Notice papers until April 10
Feb 21 2000 Senate  Procedural Bulletin 139
reports response to the order to produce documents
URL
April 14 2000 Senate Procedural Bulletin 141
reports response to the order to produce documents
URL
May 12 2000 Senate Procedural Bulletin 142
reports response to the order to produce documents
URL summarizes final production of the documents on May 10
URL
URL
URL
URL
URL
URL
URL
URL
URL
URL
URL
URL
URL
June 30 2000 Senate  Practice Report:Relations with the executive government 
Government's refusal to table relevant documents
URL Technical report of the Senate
June 30 2000 Senate  Practice Report: Documents
Government's refusal to table relevant documents
URL Technical report of the Senate

 
 

Abbreviations

ALP:     Australian Labor Party
Lib        Australian Liberal Party
Nat       Australian National Party
Dem     Australian Democrats
MOPI    Matter of Public Importance
ERC    Expenditure review committee