Senate debates

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Bills

Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 2012, Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives (Medicare Levy Surcharge) Bill 2012, Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives (Medicare Levy Surcharge — Fringe Benefits) Bill 2012; Reference to Committee

6:24 pm

Photo of John WilliamsJohn Williams (NSW, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

This is about the Senate doing its job as a chamber of review. That is what this is about. Senator Fierravanti-Wells has brought forward the statistics in terms of what is going to happen. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to realise that the more you raise the price of something the fewer customers you will have. That is just a law of economics. As you raise the price what is going to happen is that people will either lower their amount of cover or pull out of private health insurance. And what will happen then? It will mean more stress—more people relying on the public health system that is run by our state governments and is already under enormous stress.

We just found out last week that there will be a $100 million a year cost to the hospitals for increases in electricity prices because of the carbon tax—$100 million a year for our hospitals. What are we going to do now? We are going to remove the incentive for people to take out private health insurance. The government want to take that away. Yet they are trying to hide from it. They will not let a Senate inquiry go ahead; they are opposing that.

Have a look at the statements of Ms Roxon and former Prime Minister and slain political man Kevin Rudd prior to the 2007 election. The statements were: 'We will not change the private health insurance rebate. That is locked in concrete. We are the Labor people and we will not change that.' And what are they trying to do? They are trying to change it.

The reason Labor have a 31 per cent primary vote is that people do not trust them. They do not trust them on private health insurance. They do not trust them on carbon tax. They do not trust them on managing our economy. The reason they are doing this is they are stone motherless broke. We now have $231 billion worth of gross debt because they wasted so much money. They handed out $900 to people here, there and everywhere. There was the pink batts. There were the school buildings—including a $600,000 kiosk at Tottenham Central School and a $330,000 eight metre by four metre building at Kingstown Public School. The waste of money is incredible.

What are the government going to do now they have run out of money? They are going to pressure our state health system. This is cost shifting. They are simply removing the cost from the federal budget and placing it onto state budgets, which are already under enormous stress. We have seen what has happened to our state hospital system over the last 15 years with the lack of finance and support. All this is about is shifting the cost from the federal budget to the state budgets. Make no mistake about it: people will leave private health insurance—we already have the models on that—or downgrade the cover they have. Many of these people are simply Aussie battlers. When more drop out, the private health insurance companies are going to have to raise their premiums. That is only common sense. Then those Aussie battlers, who will not be affected by this as far as their rebate goes, will see their premiums going up and they will drop out. There is the problem: more strain on our public health system.

People will be lined up at the emergency department of the hospital on a weekend putting more stress on the hospital system. People will have to wait to have surgery carried out. People will leave the private health system. What will happen then? How will those private hospitals survive? This is a threat to the private hospital system as well. More people will be going to the public health system. And it is a betrayal of the promise by Ms Roxon and Mr Rudd prior to the 2007 election. No-one can deny that. We can bring in the printouts. When we get into debate on this bill we will gladly bring in the printouts from the media coverage where they said, 'We will never reduce that.'

As I said, the reason the Labor Party's primary vote is at 31 per cent is that the people of Australia have lost faith and trust in this government. They cannot trust you.

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