House debates

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Governor-General's Speech

Health Care

1:45 pm

Photo of Stephen JonesStephen Jones (Throsby, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development and Infrastructure) Share this | Hansard source

It's back! It is bigger and more horrendous than ever before! It sounds like the leader for some B-grade horror movie, but it is not; it is a description of the GP tax mark V. First introduced by the Abbott government in its failed 2014 budget and then rebadged on no less than three occasions, the GP tax played a significant part in ending the prime ministership of Tony Abbott and bringing to an end the tenure of his first health minister, Peter Dutton. Now the current Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is smuggling it back, on election eve. Of course, he is not calling it a GP tax; he does not have the courage. He is calling it an extended Medicare Benefits Schedule rebate freeze—in short, it is a GP tax.

As Christopher Harrison from the University of Sydney's Family Medicine Research Centre explains: the rebate freeze will lead to higher costs for patients. In fact, the Abbott government's plan for a $7 co-payment will look like a minnow compared to Malcolm Turnbull's GP tax. Patients are going to be slugged a $14.40 co-payment that patients will be paying by 2020 alone. Of course, the problem is worse in regional Australia, where incomes and bulk-billing rates are already lower than in the rest of Australia. It strikes me as very surprising that those members from regional and rural Australia are not standing here today and saying, 'We disagree with our Prime Minister's GP tax.' (Time expired)


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