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Campaign focus stays on health -

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TONY EASTLEY: Debate over Medicare, and how much the Government subsidises a visit to your GP, continued to demand the attention of politicians on the election campaign trail today.

The Health Minister Sussan Ley appeared to distance herself from the move in this month's budget to continue the freeze on the doctor's rebate at least until 2020.

Malcolm Turnbull accused Bill Shorten of a campaign based on spending and budget black holes.

From Canberra, Peta Donald filed this report.

(Sounds of a gum leaf being playing the tune to ‘We are Australian’)

PETA DONALD: Election campaigns throw all sorts of people doing all sorts of things into the media spotlight.

Today it was a man in his eighties playing a gumleaf at Eden, on the New South Wales south coast.

Malcolm Turnbull was campaigning there in the liberal held seat of Eden Monaro.

On the other side of the country, it was a Perth mother, Natalie Clark with three of her kids, who hosted an awkward before school cup of tea for Bill Shorten.

(Sounds of cameras clicking)

PETA DONALD: Cameras clicked and whirred as she told the Labor leader about tough times, when she and her children had been sick.

BILL SHORTEN: She got sick last year, a serious illness, it can happen to any of us.

And because we've got the great Medicare system we've got, she was able to get high quality assistance from superbly trained medical staff, but what she was also able to do is be able to afford to pay the bills.

PETA DONALD: Labor is trying to keep the campaign focus on health, and how much Australians pay for a visit to the doctor.

It promised last week to spend $12 billion over a decade on un-freezing the rebate for GPs.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: He goes around the country with a list of grievances. He's the grievance man. He's got a complaint about everything and the solution is always to spend more money, putting more and more billions on his spend-o-meter because he doesn't care how much he spends.

He thinks he can campaign simply on spending, but Australians know that his black hole of unfunded promises is getting deeper and darker every day.

PETA DONALD: The Prime Minister accused Bill Shorten of a scare campaign, and said un-freezing the rebate would only give doctors another sixty cents per patient.

On Radio National this morning, the Health Minister Sussan Ley sounded supportive.

SUSSAN LEY: I understand for doctors that the GP freeze has been difficult and I appreciate that they're working with us.

I said to doctors I want that freeze lifted as soon as possible, but I appreciate that finance and treasury aren't allowing me to do it just yet.

PETA DONALD: Labor seized on those comments.
The Opposition's health spokeswoman, Catherine King.

CATHERINE KING: I can't see how her position can possibly be tenable today, how she can possibly continue today, when she's been out there basically saying, ‘I've got no control over what's happening. I've got rolled in cabinet. Treasury and finance are making me do this and I think this policy is the wrong policy.’

PETA DONALD: Malcolm Turnbull defended his Minister, Sussan Ley.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: The reality is, the freeze will end at some point, clearly. The question is it will end when we judge it is affordable within the context of the health budget and that's all that Sussan is saying. I mean it's common sense.

PETA DONALD: On another front today, Labor changed its tune on a particular perk for politicians.

MPs and Senators are able to claim a travel allowance when they're in Canberra. If they stay in a property they own, they can also claim a tax deduction for their expenses.

Bill Shorten now says that's not right.

BILL SHORTEN: What I've asked Chris Bowen and my treasury team to do is look at how we close down this ruling.

I don't think it's fair and I'll make it very clear to Australians that where I don't think something's fair, well I'll act on it.

PETA DONALD: Not to be outdone, the Treasurer Scott Morrison flagged the Coalition will look at what Labor and his opposite Chris Bowen are proposing.

SCOTT MORRISON: I note the comments made today by Chris Bowen and we'll be in contact with his office, that may have already occurred, so we can see exactly what he is proposing.

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, ending that report from Peta Donald.