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Peter Wong is a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) in the New South Wales Parliament. He is a (the only, anywhere?) member of the Unity Party. He is also a medical doctor, which makes it even more surprising that he wants to place any restriction on an investigation into health fraud and quackery.
Dr Wong asked the following question of the Minister representing the Minister for Health in the the Legislative Council on 4 December, 2002. My comments are interspersed.
The Hon. Dr PETER WONG: My question is to the Treasurer, representing the Minister for Health. Does the Minister accept the important role of complementary medicine in New South Wales? Does he also accept that the Chair of the Health Claims and Consumer Protection Advisory Committee should be unbiased and also have some understanding of complementary medicine in our State?
Does Dr Wong believe that the chairman of any committee set up to investigate fraud in the horse racing industry should have experience of being a crooked bookmaker?
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: The Hon. Dr Peter Wong has asked for my opinion, and that is out of order. I do have opinions on complementary medicine, alternative medicine and Chinese traditional medicine but they are personal.
The Hon. Tony Kelly: It is out of order to ask for your opinion but it is not out of order for you to give your opinion.
The Hon. MICHAEL EGAN: That is right. That is a very learned observation by the Chairman of Committees. I suspect that all those forms of medicine have some merit. I do not know the scientific reason for their beneficial effects, but a lot of people swear by them. I do not know whether the effects are merely psychological or whether there is a scientific basis. But certainly one could argue empirically that traditional Chinese medicine has stood the test of time. I recall when Gough Whitlam made that historic visit in 1971 to mainland China just a week or two before Richard Nixon announced his intention to go to China. It was on that visit of Whitlam to China that we were first introduced to acupuncture. We saw on television operations being performed for which the only anaesthetic was acupuncture. We had hardly heard of it and we hardly believed it. But acupuncture is now widespread in Australia. I am not sure whether it is being used as anaesthetic; it is used for all sorts of things. People have even told me that acupuncture works in taking away nicotine cravings. I have not tried that and I would not try it without the recommendation of the Hon. Dr Brian Pezzutti.