Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 2011, Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives (Medicare Levy Surcharge) Bill 2011, Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives (Medicare Levy Surcharge — Fringe Benefits) Bill 2011
I would never show disrespect for the chair. As members on this side of the parliament know well, the truth is that you cannot have a strong public health system without a strong private health system. The private health system of this country is necessary if the public health system is to flourish. The problem with the legislation before the House is that it will ultimately impact on every single person with private health insurance, to the damage of the private health system and to the detriment of the public health system. Under this legislation 2½ million Australians will face premium increases—of over $1,000 a year in some cases.
The Deloittes study has estimated that about six million Australians will downgrade or abandon their private health insurance as a result of this means test. As better paid people, normally younger and fitter people, leave there will be a 10 per cent rise in premiums on top of everything else. This does not just affect the rich. There are 3½ million people with private health insurance who earn less than $35,000 a year, and these are the people facing a 10 per cent rise in their premiums as a result of this measure. It is estimated by Deloittes that, as a result of this measure and people leaving private health insurance, 845,000 more procedures a year will be needed in the public hospital system—a system which is already under great pressure—at a cost of $3.8 billion, which will have to be met by the states.
This chamber needs to be reminded that there will not be a single extra dollar for the public health system as a result of this legislation. The government are ripping $2.4 billion out of the private system; they are not putting, as a result of this legislation, a single extra dollar into public hospitals. There will be no more dollars for public hospitals if this legislation passes than there will be if it fails—which is why members on the cross benches should, even at this late stage, reconsider their position. I know that members on the cross benches have been a little impressed by the claims of government ministers that we should not have poor people paying for the private health insurance rebates of rich people. Let me tell them about the logic there. We have poor people paying for the Medicare rebates of rich people. If it is right for this government to attack the universality of the private health insurance rebate, it would be right for this government to attack the universality of Medicare. By attacking the universality of private health, they call into question the universality of Medicare.
This is a very bad piece of legislation. This is a monumentally bad piece of legislation. It is bad policy based on a lie. I move:
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words: “this bill, and the related bills, not be proceeded with until after the Parliament has met in the 44th Parliament.”