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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3928


Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (15:46): This year is the 33rd anniversary of the Fraser government's dismantling of Medibank. Next week we are going to witness another anniversary and that is the anniversary of the Fraser government tearing up the health and hospital agreement, the agreement they negotiated with the states to provide more funding for Australian hospitals. They are at it again this mob. The truth is: whatever they say, they just do not believe in Medicare. The Prime Minister nailed it himself in his book. He said the Liberal Party is made up of two camps. The first is the camp that accepts that Medicare is a part of the framework of this country, a part of the landscape. The second camp—

Mr Tudge: Where is Dr Leigh when you need him?

Mr STEPHEN JONES: I suspect the member for Aston is a member of this camp. They see Medibank and Medicare as nothing more than medical socialism. Those are the Prime Minister's own words.

There have been a few interjections. I heard the member for Dawson had a bit to say by way of interjection and a few National Party members had a bit to say by way of interjection, but none of them are on the speaking list because none of them have the guts to stand up here and defend their own government's policy. They are absolutely wetting themselves about going back to their electorates and telling them what their minister and their Prime Minister have proposed. There is a very good reason for it. The true evil in this proposal to introduce a GP tax is this—health and welfare in rural Australia drags the chain and falls behind the health outcomes when it comes to the rest of the country. Those members representing regional and rural seats know it and that is why they are so afraid to go back to their electorates and defend these proposals. They know there are fewer doctors. They know there is a higher incidence of chronic disease. They know there are lower incomes in regional Australia and that this GP tax is going to hit them hard.

I see that the member for Gilmore is in the chamber. She would have read in this morning's Illawarra Mercury a doctor from Milton sticking the boot into the government's proposal. He said:

We say to people here, 'oh you need to drive to Wollongong from Milton for a specialist appointment' and they say 'I can't afford the petrol. I can't go this week because I don't have petrol'.

We don't realise there are people living on the edge. They've said people who are under 30 and unemployed aren't going to get the dole for six months. If they're not eligible for the dole, how are they supposed to make a co-payment?

Dr Thomson also took issue with the co-payment being designed to limit people making too many visits to the doctor. He said:

I don't necessarily accept that premise, that limiting people coming to the doctor's is a good thing.

The member for Gilmore should be listening to her constituents and she should be listening to the GPs in her electorate. If she were listening and knew what was going on, she would know that the GP bulk-billing rate in her electorate was 84.9 per cent last year. If the $7 GP tax is applied to each and every one of those visits, it will be a $6.2 million hit to the hip pockets of patients in her electorate.

It is very good to stand in this place and say you stand for things, but actions speak louder than words. When the vote comes up on this proposal I expect the member for Gilmore, the member for Eden-Monaro, the member for Dawson and every single National Party member to be sitting on this side of the chamber because actions speak louder than words. There is a very clear message for Australians in this budget. The message from the coalition to Australia in this budget is: do not grow old, do not get the sack and do not get crook because if you do, you better have a credit card because your Medicare card is not going to get you in the door.