Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific representing the Minister for Health, Senator Fierravanti-Wells. Can the minister confirm that the Turnbull government's Medicare guarantee will ensure that all Australians can access quality, affordable health care?
I thank Senator Bushby for the question. Yes, the Turnbull government is concerned to see that all Australians have access to quality, affordable health care. We have moved to guarantee Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The Medicare guarantee includes legislation to ensure their long-term, sustainable funding through the establishment of a Medicare Guarantee Fund, with funds to be paid every year to meet the costs of Medicare and the PBS before the budget. Funding will include both the Medicare levy, which covers approximately half the cost, and additional funds required from income tax. This provides transparency for all Australians on what Medicare costs and how it is funded.
The Medicare guarantee proves that the coalition has a rock-solid commitment to ensuring that all Australians have access to high-quality health care. Compare that with Labor's record on Medicare. Labor invested an average of $17.7 billion into Medicare during their six years in government, compared to the coalition's investment of $23 billion in Medicare this year, increasing to $26 billion in 2019-20. But what really showed Labor's callousness at the last election was 'Mediscare': false Medicare cards; ringing up little old ladies in the middle of the night, lying to them—shame on you!—scaring them into thinking that Medicare would be cut. That lying is continuing today with the opposition's campaign in Bennelong and the lies that Bill Shorten and Kristina Keneally are continuing to peddle about Medicare.
The coalition is investing more than ever in Medicare, because funding is going up each and every year—as I said, from $23 billion this year to $28 billion in 2020-21. More Australians than ever before are seeing their GP without having to pay. The bulk-billing rate for GP consultations nationally during the September quarter was 85.9 per cent, which is significantly higher than it was under Labor. Let me give you the facts. In the September quarter, 85.9 per cent of GP consultations were bulk-billed—
which is up from when you were in government. The Turnbull government is a good friend, a rock-solid friend, of Medicare. For example, in Bennelong alone, there were almost 900,000 bulk-billed visits in Bennelong just in the September quarter. (Time expired)
The Turnbull government is removing Labor's Medicare freeze, with the commitment of $1 billion to our doctors and patients by restoring indexation of the Medicare rebate. This commenced with GP bulk-billing incentives on 1 July 2017. For the first time since 2004, it is the Turnbull government that has committed to indexing a range of diagnostic imaging services, a move that has been warmly welcomed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners—something that you have never, ever done. Contrast this with the lies that are being peddled by Bill Shorten and Kristina Keneally in Bennelong. You shut down 128 Medicare offices before you left office and now you're lying about that. You are lying about bulk-billing rates. The people of New South Wales could not trust Kristina Keneally when she was Premier; therefore, the people of Bennelong should not trust her. (Time expired)