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Senior union leader stunned by new private health insurance revelations



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Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Secretary: David Harrison Ph: 07-3236 2550 PRESS RELEASE

ATTENTION: CHIEFS-OF-STAFF

20 May 1999

SEN IO R UNIO N LEADER STUNNED BY N EW PRIVATE H E A L TH INSURA NCE REVELATIONS Vows to fight for Medicare and public hospitals

The Queensland secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), David Harrison, today said he was stunned to learn that the Howard Government’s obsession with assisting private health insurance could actually cut millions from Queensland’s public hospital -<9M funding.

Mr-Harrison was responding to this morning’s confirmation by Queensland Health Minister, Wendy Edmond, that Commonwealth Government funding for Queensland public hospitals would be cut by $15 million for every one per cent that private health insurance coverage climbed above 30.4% of the Queensland population.

“I was, and I am sure most other Queenslanders were also under the impression that all this effort being put into the costly private health insurance industry was designed to take pressure off our public hospitals. Instead we now find out it will actually take funding, not pressure, off our public hospitals.

“AMWU members and their families throughout Queensland rely on the publidiiospital system. I can assure John Howard and his Government that we will not stand by and let them destroy Medicare and further cut public health funding. The union movement strongly resisted John Howard and Malcolm Fraser’s attempts to destroy Medicare’s predecessor, Medibank, in the late 1970s and

early 1980s. We will muke thul look like a stroll in the park if Medicare and free public hospitals are abolished.

“AMWU members and other Queensland workers have taken discounted wage rises in the last 15 years in exchange for benefits such as Medicare and free, universal access to public hospitals. This saved them being forced to spend anything up to $30 or $40 per week on private health insurance premiums.

“Now with a whole range of tricks and mirrors John Howard is trying to force people into private health insurance The whole thing is increasingly looking like, feeling like, and I would suggest actually is, an attack on Medicare and public hospitals,” Mr Harrison said.

End

Media inquiries: David Harrison 07-3236 2550; 0418-883 932