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Tuesday, 2 December 2003
Page: 23423


Ms GILLARD (2:25 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing, in the hope of getting a correct answer on the so-called safety net.


The SPEAKER —The member for Lalor will understand her obligation to come to the question.


Mr Ross Cameron —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member is a serial offender. I ask you to require her to withdraw the inference and argument in the question and to avoid it in the balance of the question.


The SPEAKER —I am quite surprised that the member for Parramatta is aware of what is contained in the balance of the member for Lalor's question. The member for Lalor is aware, because I in fact interrupted her, that her preamble was inappropriate.


Ms GILLARD —I refer to the answer given yesterday by the minister for health on the cost of AIDS drugs and his claim that the so-called safety net in the Howard government's Medicare package would protect against such costs. Is the minister aware that the safety net does not cover these particular costs? If the minister cannot understand his so-called safety net, how can he expect Australians to understand it?


Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Health and Ageing) —I simply say to the member for Lalor: if AIDS sufferers have significant out-of-pocket, out-of-hospital MBS expenses, they will be covered by the safety net. AIDS sufferers, in common with many other Australians, have to visit GPs and specialists and have to receive out-of-hospital treatment. I noticed today that the new Leader of the Opposition said that his objective is to save Medicare. Well, save Medicare: pass the MedicarePlus package.