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Monday, 21 June 2004
Page: 30887

Mr RIPOLL (1:54 PM) —Over the past week or so, households throughout my electorate of Oxley have been receiving a package in the mail from the federal government, signed by the Prime Minister. This package has been informing one and all that they have cover under a thing called Medicare. This would come as no surprise to the good people of Oxley, but what would come as a surprise to them is the amount of money being wasted on this direct mail campaign and the accompanying print, radio and TV advertising—in the order of $15.7 million just for this particular campaign.

That money would have covered every single bulk-billed consultation in the electorate of Oxley last year and a significant number of consultations in the neighbouring electorate of Blair. With bulk-billing rates plummeting and out-of-pocket costs skyrocketing, this money could have been much better spent ensuring families in Ipswich and Brisbane were able to access affordable, quality health care. This is a disgrace and a complete waste of taxpayers' dollars which should have been redirected to provide quality health care for all Australians.

This is a government of records: record low rates of Medicare bulk-billing; record credit card debt; record foreign account deficit; record new taxes—this is the highest taxing government in history, not including the GST; and a record spend on political advertising, in the order of $120 million. In 1998 the government spent around $30 million in the months leading up to the election. In 2001 the government spent around $70 million in the lead-up to the election. This year it is already over $100 million. (Time expired)