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Thursday, 4 February 2010
Page: 436

Senator SIEWERT (10:34 AM) —The Greens are seeking that these private health insurance bills not be put together because we have separate positions on each of the bills and we do not think it is therefore appropriate that the bills be taken together. We want the ability to be able to comment and vote on these bills separately because they are dealing with two separate issues. One is about means testing the rebate, which the Greens have been very clear about supporting; the other is about the increase to the Medicare surcharge levy, which the Greens have a different opinion on and would like to discuss separately. By putting these bills together, the government forces the debate to be taken together. I can see what they are trying to do; however, the Greens believe differently. We would like to be able to comment and potentially vote on the bills differently. We have made no bones about the fact—and I said this last time in the chamber—that we support the concept of means testing the rebate. We have a different opinion on the surcharge and we would like to be able to comment and vote on that differently. Rather than cause confusion during the committee process by debating these bills together, it would be better to deal with them separately. We are seeking to split the bills so that they can be dealt with separately.

The PRESIDENT —Just so we understand where we are at: the question before the chair is that the bills be taken together.