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Tuesday, 9 September 2003
Page: 14680

Senator NETTLE (6:39 PM) —I have been pleased to hear the contributions to this debate of a range of people, and I have been particularly pleased to hear from people on this side of the chamber, about the flaws that exist in the current private health insurance rebate, about the problems with the rebate and about the balance between public and private health care that we have in this country. But I am disappointed that people are not taking the opportunity that we have here to refocus spending in this country on health care. I agree with Senator Evans that we have a moral obligation to ensure that all Australians with health needs can access a quality public health care system. What the Australian Greens amendments do today is to say that the $2.3 billion of public money that is there for the health system needs to be spent in that system to ensure that there are health outcomes for all Australians. That is what the Australian Greens are putting to the chamber today.

I have been pleased to hear the comments—such as how we spend public money on health outcomes—on this important issue of public debate. Do we put it into the private health insurance industry or do we put it into our public hospitals? Do we put it into ensuring that our GPs bulk-bill or do we put it into ensuring that we have Indigenous health services available in community centres across this country? It is an important and crucial debate, and it will continue to be so in the public arena in Australia. So I have been pleased to have had this opportunity, but I am disappointed that people have not seized the opportunity the Australian Greens have offered today to commit that public money to our public health care system to ensure that it is there for all Australians. I commend the amendments.

Question put:

That the amendments (Senator Nettle's) be agreed to.