Wednesday, 14 September 2016
This is my first opportunity in this place to thank the people of Whitlam, who have generously returned me to this parliament to the third time. It is a great honour. I would like to think the reason that they have done that is in part that I stand up for the issues which are of concern to them.
The people of Whitlam are concerned about the future of manufacturing in this country, particularly the future of the BlueScope Steel works. It has gone through some challenges. We have pushed hard to get the right policy settings in place to ensure that we continue to make steel there for many, many years to come. The people of Whitlam are concerned about school education and university education. I fought for Gonski school education funding. I fought against the proposition to introduce $100,000 university degrees.
And of course I fought strongly to defend and protect and improve Medicare. The people of Whitlam deserve better than a government which is launching repeated attacks on our healthcare system. The coalition's Medicare rebate freeze, which is a back-door GP tax, has been extended all the way out to 2020. This means that GPs face an impossible choice: charge patients more or go bust.
In my own electorate of Whitlam and in the neighbouring seat of Gilmore—and I am pleased to see the member for Gilmore is here today—general practices are being forced to end bulk-billing. The first time that many constituents hear of this is when they turn up to their doctor's surgery and see a sign in the window or on the front counter. I was ejected from parliament the other week for holding up this sign—
And you are right to remind me. I will not hold up this sign here, which is a similar message that was provided to all of the people who are patients at the Bowral Street Medical Practice in my electorate of Whitlam; or this sign here, which is a sign that was on the front door of Walker Street General Practice, again advising constituents that their practice would no longer be bulk-billing. The reason they cite is the government's changes and, in particular, the GP rebate freeze, otherwise known as a GP tax.
So, when each and every government frontbencher stands up in this place and protests about Labor's campaign, in order to point out the truth about the impact of the government's GP tax on our constituents I will go to any lengths necessary to ensure that these signs and signs like them are brought to the attention of the Australian people. It is simply not right or fair— (Time expired)