House debates

Thursday, 15 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Albanese Government

3:27 pm

Photo of Justine ElliotJustine Elliot (Richmond, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | Hansard source

That's right; you remember him dismantling Medicare by forcing all Australians to pay a $7 co-payment, the GP tax. That was appalling, especially for our senior Australians, the people who built this nation. This is what he wanted to impose and tried so hard to do it. He said at the time:

… we believe very strongly in having a price signal. There's no sense me pretending to Australians that when you walk through the door of your GP that everything can be for free.

How out of touch can you get? Australians remember that. They know; don't worry. He also wanted to jack up the prices of essential medicines by $5 a script, making them unaffordable. What have we done, Madam Deputy Speaker Claydon? We have made medicines cheaper. We know that people need to be able to access them. He also wanted to charge Australians who needed to access public hospital emergency departments. How catastrophic would that be? He said at the time:

The government will also remove the restrictions on state and territory governments that prevent hospital emergency departments charging a modest fee for presentations.

Absurd! He froze the indexation of the Medicare rebate, undermining the viability of our great GP practices and increasing out-of-pocket costs. What have we done since we've been in government? We've tripled the Medicare rebate to make accessing bulk-billing easier—so important—because we understand that Australians need to have that cost-of-living relief.

We also saw the opposition leader, when he was health minister, rip more than $50 billion out of our public hospitals. Of course, we inherited this absolute mess, which our government is fixing with a massive investment in Medicare. The damage that was done was so wide ranging, impacting people and their health and wellbeing over the nine years they were in government. In fact, the opposition leader was so bad as health minister that he was named the worst health minister in 35 years in a pile of GPs and specialists. That is the reality, and that was just one of the many, many bad, bad policies that we saw from this government with all of their failures.

Let's not forget when he was the Minister for Home Affairs as well. The opposition leader as minister then wrecked Australia's system of immigration and border security. We saw this in the Richardson Review. You have all seen it and read the details. He left our borders wide open, our communities less safe and our economy weaker. This has all been detailed very, very clearly in the Richardson report.

We had that nine years of chaos. We had the three leaders. We are all seeing it played out in Nemesis, every detail of it, all the infighting. It is because those opposite were so focused on themselves and their infighting, and there was always the opposition leader there lurking about, undermining all the time. Their focus was completely on themselves.

We on this side are focused on the Australian people and delivering for them right across the board, particularly delivering the really important cost-of-living relief. But those opposite will keep on with their infighting. We are all waiting for Nemesis part 2. It will be good to hear about the Dutton years in opposition. It will be Nemesis part 2.


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