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Mcleay - first the bike - now the letter

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CSR BOB WOODS Shadow Minister for Health MCLEAY — FIRST THE BIKE . — NOW THE LETTER A letter by the Speaker of the House Leo McLeay intentionally misrepresents Coalition policy

and again brines into grave doubt his ability to continue in such a high office, according to Dr Bob Woods, the Shadow Minister for Health, Dr Woods revealed today that McLeay has recently written at taxpayer expense to thousands in the electorate of Watson, which he is contesting on behalf of the ALP, and totally misrepresented the Coalition on health and other issues.

" The Speaker is supposed to set a high standard for the conduct of all parliamentarians, but with this further disreputable action, McLeay proves he has no respect for the facts and shares major responsibility for the deterioration of the Australian political debate.

" The miserable content of McLeay's letter forces me to disregard accepted practice and publicly expose him. I continue to deeply respect the Institution of Speaker but I am extremely concerned about what he has personally done to tarnish It. " In terms of the health portfolio, McLeay has no regard for the facts. In just one paragraph, McLeay misrepresents Coalition policy four times:

1) 'Under Dr Hewson's health plan, the Medicare levy Is retained but a surcharge Is also levied an those without private health insurance,' FACT: Under the Coalition, the Medicare levy will be retained with no Increase -- it is Labor pollcy`s to increase it to 1.4 per cent. Secondly, there is no requirement whatsoever for anyone to take up private health insurance -- there will only be incentives such as tax credits of up to $800 for lower income earners. There will also be disincentives for a small group of well off Australians with incomes over $50,000 who have no cover. In the name of fairness, It Is only they who will be subject to an extra surcharge.

2) 'The extra levy will cost up to $400 a year for single people and $$00 a year for families.' FACT: The extra levy only applies to those with Incomes over $50,000 who do not take up private health Insurance, not to Australians with incomes under that amount. 3) 'While Dr Howson is offering tax rebates on health Insurance, the average family rebate will be just $200.' FACT: ,s $200 more than they currently get which is zero. As the tax rebates are aimed at people on lower Incomes, many families will get $400 a year back

and many pensioner couples $800 a year back.






Additionally, Labor's Treasu ry estimates that the overall price of private health Insurance will fail under the Coalition. Plus, people will be allowed to again Insure against almost all their health costs, eg, 'the gap", which is currently prohibited by Labor.

4) 'This means that for exactly the same level of service families now receive under Medicare, they will be paying an extra $600 a year to private health Insurance cpmpanles.' FACT: Again, there is absolutely no requirement for families to take up private health Insurance, only an incentive In the form of tax credits up to $600. Indeed, If famiftes choose to stay In Medicare under the Coalition, they will get far better service than on current waiting lists at public hospitals which Labor condones," Dr Woods said.

" Clearly, McLE'ay is sensitive to the fact that Labor is totally bereft of ideas or solutions when It comes to the crisis in Australia's health system. All that Is left for him do is to disgracefully and dishonestly misrepresent the Coalition's common sense approach, But desperation is no pardon. This is gu tter politics of the worst variety. Australians accept better from the Speaker, the individual charged with the responsibility of maintaining parliamentary standards and representing Parliament to overseas dignitaries. McLeay's handling of Question Time Is gross. This letter underscores the fact that Keating cannot continue to embarrass our whole country by protecting a Labor mate -- McLeay must ga.

" During a recent debate John Howson described McLeay as a national disgrace. I find It difficult to disagree with that," Dr Woods said,


FOR MORE 1NFORMA1iON; DR BOB WOODS H: 02.744.1872 OR PETER SHIAIGEL H: 02,.716.7309 (14 January 1993)