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Monday, 2 June 2003
Page: 15595

Mr BARRESI (3:10 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Ageing. Is the minister aware of any threats to Australia's private health insurance sector and its role in Australia's world-class health system?

Mr ANDREWS (Minister for Ageing) —I thank the member for Deakin for his question. For the past 18 months, the Australian Labor Party have been hiding behind the member for Perth's so-called review of private health insurance and refusing to come clean as to whether they will strip Australian families of the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate. If they take the rebate off ancillaries, which has been suggested, this will slug Australian families who have private health insurance an extra $230 a year. And if they remove the whole private health insurance rebate, that will mean a tax slug of $750 to Australian families who have such insurance. Just last week, the opposition again suggested slashing the rebate when they asked:

... why does the rebate apply to ancillaries? Could you contemplate a system where the rebate was capped so far as individual payments are concerned and means tested so far as individual payments are concerned?

This is a statement from the shadow spokesman for health, the member for Perth. So we know what Labor will do; they are considering a range of options, including rolling back the entire private health insurance rebate, capping means testing and taking it off the ancillaries. This means that they should explain to those nine million Australians that going to the dentist, getting new spectacles or having physiotherapy treatment, for example, will be 30 per cent more expensive under the Labor Party. They should explain why those one million people on incomes of less than $20,000 a year are going to be slugged up to $750 in tax increases under the Labor Party should they ever win government. The ALP will not come clean about this but we know that they are a high-taxing party when they are in government. One thing that Australians should know is that private health insurance will always be 30 per cent cheaper under this government.