House debates

Monday, 20 August 2018

Statements by Members

Australian Hearing

1:33 pm

Photo of Tony ZappiaTony Zappia (Makin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Medicare) Share this | | Hansard source

Last week, the Turnbull government issued its response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport report on its inquiry into the hearing health and wellbeing of Australia. Recommendation 21 of the report called on the government to retain Australian Hearing in government ownership. The government's response was to simply note the recommendation.

The clear signal from the government's response is that the Turnbull government has not ruled out selling off Australian Hearing and therefore privatising it. That is what the government wanted to do prior to the 2016 election, and it had already entered into discussions with a private consortium at the time. It was also a recommendation of the National Commission of Audit to sell it off. The government backed off in the lead-up to the 2016 election because it feared a public backlash to the sale.

Australian Hearing is an iconic, trusted national hearing service that has existed since 1947 and today has around 150 branches around Australia. It provides an invaluable service across the country and operates at no cost to the government. I call on the Turnbull government to reassure the hundreds of thousands of Australian Hearing clients and its hundreds of staff that Australian Hearing will not be privatised and that there will be no cuts to the services provided.