House debates

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


Private Health Insurance Amendment (Lifetime Health Cover Loading and Other Measures) Bill 2012, Private Health Insurance Legislation Amendment (Base Premium) Bill 2013; Second Reading

8:30 pm

Photo of Andrew LamingAndrew Laming (Bowman, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Health Services and Indigenous Health) Share this | Hansard source

This has been a government that has been engaged in a debate with private health cover ever since they came to power. They were quite happy to make promises before an election. Now they have steadily, progressively nickel and dimed the 10.7 million Australians who take control and fund some of their own health cover. The 30 per cent health rebate, the lifetime health cover and the community rating are the three legs upon which private health cover now covers more than half of Australia's population but one side of politics does not have the foresight and the vision to allow the public health system to be sustained.

Many parts of the world have moved on from this puerile and petty debate, this class warfare and this hatred of anyone looking after their own health care. Go through most parts of Europe: they acknowledge that there are two sectors that working together can look after the health of the citizenry. But that is not the case here in Australia. We are engaged in a multi-decade fatwa against private health cover, on the one hand building up 12 new bureaucracies costing a billion dollars over the forward estimates to run and on the other hand ripping money out of the MYEFO retrospectively. What a curious act from a Labor government that since the mid-2000s has engaged in criticising this opposition about ripping money out of health care because they did not increase it as fast as they had in the previous government agreement.

Now the government have the duplicity and the hypocrisy to come in and rip money out of state hospital budgets to the tune of $1.6 billion when that money is already committed and promised. It has already been transferred to state governments. It is already paying the wages of doctors and nurses. Then they tell you in this futile and desperate struggle to come up with a budget surplus—that ephemeral and ultimately futile and impossible budget surplus that they had to rip money out of public hospitals. What foolish and short-sighted conduct these health ministers have engaged in. Let us run it through just one more time. We are not talking about forward estimates. We are talking about money already transferred—ching, ching—already in the bank account, already paying the salaries of nurses and doctors and that money has been removed.


No comments