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

8:52 pm

Photo of Kelly O'DwyerKelly O'Dwyer (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am simply trying to educate the minister that it is as a result of the fiscal mismanagement of this government that we find ourselves in a position where this bill is being brought before the House. As I was explaining to the minister—and she may learn something if she does listen to this point—the previous coalition government in delivering record surplus after surplus was actually able to put enough money away into a Future Fund to help cover the contingent liabilities of our public servants—$70 billion in net assets. What this government is doing, though, is that it has been accumulating more than $192 billion in deficits and it has promised another two deficits, which will add up to more than $220 billion. But we know we cannot rely on the Treasurer's figures. We know there will probably be bigger blow-outs than that if the Treasurer is still in his job after 14 September. More than that, we have more than $300 billion of gross debt, and counting. It is quite wrong that Australians are having to pay for the government's incompetence. They are having to pay for this government's incompetence through higher costs and through higher costs to their private health insurance rebates.

The government have coupled the bill that will index the private health insurance policy base premium by the lesser of CPI percentage change or the change of the premium charged by a private health insurer with a bill introduced last year—the Private Health Insurance Amendment (Lifetime Health Cover Loading and Other Measures) Bill 2012. There is only one reason why they would do this—that is, to avoid scrutiny and to try to force it through parliament even more quickly. It is because they know that the changes to lifetime health cover in this bill will increase premiums by up to a reported 27.5 per cent on 1 July 2013. I stress again: an increase of up to 27.5 per cent on 1 July 2013. They are reneging on another promise despite their iron-clad guarantee. They are going to increase the cost of living for all Australians and there is no smoke-and-mirrors spin that they can use to disguise that fact.

It is only the coalition that understands the need for a strong and accessible private health system to ensure that the public health system remains viable and sustainable. After all, it was the coalition government's private health insurance reforms in the form of rebates, the Medicare levy surcharge and lifetime health cover that saw the number of people with private health insurance increase 75 per cent from 6.1 million to over 10.7 million, consequently alleviating stress and strain on the public sector, which was then at breaking point.

That is why only the coalition has committed to restoring the private health insurance rebates once we can responsibly do that. It is only the coalition that understands that choice in health care should not just be for the elite, the wealthy, the rich—however it is that the government would like to choose to term the phrase—but instead is accessible to all those who wish to provide options for themselves and for their families. It is only the coalition that will again deliver hope, reward and opportunity for all.


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