Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Questions without Notice
I am advised about one per cent in year one.
Ms King interjecting—
One per cent in year one. The bottom line is, yes, we are asking Australians to contribute to the costs of Medicare to go to the doctor—absolutely. As Paul Keating said, in this place, at this dispatch box, when he was the Treasurer and when the Labor Party bumped up the contribution in relation to the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, the fundamental fact is that if we want to make sure that these things are sustainable, we have to make a contribution.
The great irony in relation to the Labor Party's concern about asking pensioners, for example, to contribute when they go and see the doctor is that the Labor Party had a system in place. When pensioners went to get a prescription they had to pay up to $360 for the first 60 prescriptions. So they paid $360 for the prescriptions, but nothing to go and visit the doctor. What we are saying is that we are asking pensioners to pay $70 if they go 10 times to see the doctor—$70. But, no, Labor is outraged about $70; but they were not outraged about asking pensioners to pay $360 for prescriptions.
What hypocrisy! What abject hypocrisy! They were never outraged about asking pensioners to pay for the first $360 of prescriptions, but they are outraged to ask pensioners to pay $70 for the first 10 visits to the doctor. And it was the Labor Party that came up with the whole concept of paying to visit the doctor. They legislated it in this place under the Hawke and Keating governments—they legislated it! Of course, the shadow Assistant Treasurer is a great advocate for it. Even in his book—which I am going to get to in a moment—the member for Lilley said that the shadow Assistant Treasurer is not being properly listened to.
Opposition members interjecting—
Well, let's give him a chance.
The member will resume his seat. On a number of occasions this point has been raised. I have ruled on it previously. I uphold the previous rulings. The member has now lost his opportunity to, at the end of the day, make a personal explanation. The Treasurer has the call.
He has just given me a chance to find the quote:
There's a better way of operating a health system, and the change should hardly hurt at all. As economists have shown, the ideal model involves a small co-payment.
And in his book, the member for Lilley says: