House debates

Monday, 21 June 2021


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022; Consideration in Detail

12:12 pm

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | Hansard source

I want to thank all of the members who have spoken in consideration in detail and appreciate their contributions. I think there are four remaining areas to be addressed, if I'm fair: Medicare and hospitals, aged care, Australia's COVID response and Indigenous care.

On Medicare and hospitals, the number of Australians who are able to access the doctor without having to pay for it is that, during our time in government, bulk-billing rates for general practices—and bulk-billing represents somebody who is able to visit the doctor without having to pay—have increased from 82 per cent to 88.7 per cent. For the people of Lindsay, that means that on average, if you take the national average, 6.7 per cent more of visits are free. It means that almost nine out of 10 visits are free. The year-to-date rates represent a significant step forward: 6.7 per cent greater than they were at any time under the previous government. Related to that, Medicare funding has reached record levels: going from $19 billion under the previous government to $31 billion, $32 billion and $33 billion over the course of this budget cycle, including an additional $6 billion all up for Medicare and an additional $700 million specifically for new Medicare items.

Hospital funding—and this question was raised by the member for Macarthur—goes from $13 billion, under the previous government, and is more than doubled to $26 billion, $27 billion and $28 billion over the course of the forward estimates. Very importantly, related to that, we have also seen the change in private health insurance fees halved on an annual basis, from six per cent under Labor to just over 2.7 per cent under the coalition. It's the lowest change in 20 years. Over the last five years it has progressively been the lowest change in 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 years.

In relation to aged care, at the outset I set out the five pillars, but I will address matters raised by the members for Perth, Longman and Cooper. The most fundamental thing here is a $17.7 billion investment and transformation in aged care. Part of that is $7½ billion for home care, including $6½ billion for additional home-care places, as we build towards a single support-at-home program. There is $7.8 billion which goes directly into residential aged-care investment. As the member for Cooper has said, $3.2 billion is for the basic daily fee, which goes to support the operations of facilities, patients and workers—all of those things flow from that investment. It is then immediately added to the new investment of $3.9 billion under the AN-ACC system for the work that is done to support care minutes. Those care minutes are all about the employment of workers—nurses and personal carers—to provide that care. It is a fundamentally important step forward.

In relation to COVID, there has been some comparison with the UK and the US. Tragically, in the UK over 127,000 lives have been lost. In the US well over 600,000 lives have been lost. These figures are almost incomprehensible. If Australia were to have had the developed-world average, we would have had approximately 30,000 lives lost. If we were to have had the per capita rate of those two countries, we would have had 50,000 lives lost. I thank and acknowledge Australians. More than 26 per cent of eligible Australians have participated in the vaccine rollout so far. We urge them to continue. Over 6½ million Australians have been vaccinated, 100 per cent of aged-care facilities have had first doses and over 97.8 per cent of facilities have had second doses.

Finally, with regard to Indigenous Australians, $4 billion over the forward estimates goes specifically to their needs, with $781 million new. To answer the member for Lingiari, the funding in relation to Maningrida has been transferred to local community control, and I am advised they are now able to deliver the services.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.


No comments