| March 28, 2017

Speaking on the Importance of Medicare

Delivered: Tuesday 28th March 2017, House of Representatives, Parliament House, Canberra.

I think this debate on the matter of public importance of Medicare is a great way to define the differences between the two sides of this parliament.

What we have on one side is somebody who calls it as they see it and acknowledges that yes, there was a whole range of challenges in relation to funding and continuing to improve on a health service that tends to grow in most western societies and most western countries at around five, six or seven per cent year on year.

It puts an incredible strain on the budget of all those First World countries when so many other parts of the economy are potentially stagnant or maybe growing at one or two per cent.

This creates a real challenge, but at least the coalition has the decency and the honesty to acknowledge that we have real, serious challenges.

On the other hand, we have a series of mistruths and lies coming out of the Labor Party.

And not only do they get found out for these lies but they are incredibly proud of telling these lies to the Australian public.

They are incredibly proud of the fact that even though they were caught out with the 'Mediscare' campaign during the election campaign they wear it as some sort of badge of honour that they are so deceitful.

They think, 'We can put one over the Australian people', and they wear it with this incredible honour.

As the member for Berowra stated earlier, when the opposition leader was caught out on radio in the days and weeks leading up to the election and asked whether he could give us one skerrick of evidence about whether there is any truth behind the 'Mediscare' campaign at all, he was unable to furnish one skerrick of evidence about so-called 'Mediscare'—the fact that we could somehow or other privatise a system that costs us $15 billion. I would like to see who is going to buy that one!

Irrespective of that, the ridiculousness of the 'Mediscare' campaign has been borne out in the months following the election, but there is this incredible attitude of the Labor Party whereby they still tend to revel in the deceit and dishonesty associated with the entire campaign.

It is beyond belief.

However, the previous speaker, Mr Danby, the member for Melbourne Ports, at least started his contribution by talking about when the freeze on the Medicare rebate was put in place six years ago, and then he went on with the rest of his contribution.

At least he acknowledged that it was the Labor Party that started the rebate freeze. It was the Labor Party that put this freeze in place.

If we start from that point of honesty, then maybe we can go along and look at what the rates of Australians who are using the bulk-billing system are now.

I do not know what the member for Sydney was talking about when she wanted to talk about the trajectory of bulk-billing, but, quite simply, 75.1 per cent of Australians were bulk-billing in 2012-13. Then in 2013-14 it went to 76 per cent.

In 2014-15—a coalition government—it was 76.9 per cent. There were steady increases in the percentage of all visitors to a doctor, the percentage of all Australians accessing bulk-billing, increasing year on year.

And in 2015-16 and 2016-17 it has been 77.1 per cent of Australians accessing bulk-billing.

So, the statistics and the facts put a further lie to the outrageous claims that are being put forward by the Labor Party. Once again they get caught out.

In relation to bulk-billing rates state by state and then through electorates, for the seat of Murray, for total Medicare, 79 per cent of people who live in Murray are able to access bulk-billing.

Yes, it would be great if we lived in a fairyland world where money were no object and we were not spending $100 million a day more than we were making, if we had no budgetary pressures.

If the Labor Party had its way, we know where it would go in relation to higher taxes, where it would go in relation to further spending, putting greater pressure on business.

Absolutely, as the Prime Minister said today: not one policy that is going to actually be good for the economy, not one policy that is going to create one job, not one policy that is going to actually fix up the deficit that we are going to hand on to our kids. Only the coalition has the courage to balance the budget.

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