Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Health and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012; Consideration in Detail
by leave—I move opposition amendments (1) to (3), as circulated, together:
(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 4), omit “items 20 to 23”, substitute “item 23”.
(2) Schedule 1, page 5 (line 14), omit the heading.
(3) Schedule 1, items 20 to 22, page 5 (line 15) to page 6 (line 26), omit the items.
These amendments will ensure the name 'Medicare' is protected into the future. This bill seeks to correct another botched implementation by Labor. They created primary healthcare organisations operating under the name 'Medicare Locals', a name which is technically unlawful under Commonwealth legislation. Nothing could better highlight this government's incompetence. Nothing could better highlight the fact that this government was merely after a headline as opposed to a health outcome. Nothing could better highlight the fact that this government has stumbled from one disaster to the next when it comes to the health portfolio. What competent government could enlist the assistance of primary healthcare organisations and insist on them being called Medicare Locals, bearing in mind that the government, in their Medicare Locals, do not provide any Medicare assistance? You cannot go into a Medicare Local office to have your Medicare claim processed. You cannot go into a Medicare Local office to see a doctor or a nurse or to seek medical advice or attention. You cannot go into a Medicare Local office and ask for advice in relation to Medicare matters. Medicare Locals have nothing to do with Medicare whatsoever. Why did this government decide to call them Medicare Locals? Because it thought it could fool the Australian people into believing that somehow this was a network of retail services, which of course it is not. That this government, in the height of its incompetence, would allow the use of the word 'Medicare' in the title of these primary healthcare organisations, knowing that it contravenes federal legislation, just speaks to the absolute continuing incompetence of the Gillard government.
I want to speak in support of the amendments that have been moved by the member for Dickson, the shadow minister for health. Going back to the summing-up that the Minister for Health just made: I was a bit disturbed to learn that the government are already thinking about changing the name of Medicare Locals.
Minister, could you just listen for a second, because we listened to you. I would like the House to hear from the minister how much the government has spent on developing the Medicare Local brand and the logos, only to look at a change for this. I would like to hear from the minister at what point she was aware that the use of the name 'Medicare Locals' was in breach of Commonwealth legislation. I think the former Prime Minister and the former minister of health had a sort of light bulb moment when a recommendation came out of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission to have primary healthcare organisations and some bright spark said, 'Why don't we call them Medicare Locals?'
The House really needs to hear from the minister at what point they were advised that there was a problem with the use of the name Medicare Locals—namely, that using the name Medicare Locals was illegal, was in breach of Commonwealth legislation—because this policy was announced in April 2010. The first Medicare Local was established on 1 July last year, so we need to hear from the minister: when did she or the previous minister become aware that there was a problem with using 'Medicare' in the name of Medicare Locals?
The question is that the amendments be agreed to. There being more than one voice calling for a division, in accordance with standing order 133(b) the division is deferred until after 8 pm.