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Mr Abbott admits he will make cuts to Australia's "outstanding" health system

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Campaign Media Release

Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek


Tony Abbott has admitted he will make cuts to Australia’s health system, which he says is in ‘outstanding’ shape under Federal Labor.

“Mr Abbott admitted Medicare Locals won’t be immune from his cuts,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Can I say that absolutely no Medicare Local will close? No I’m not going to say that.” (Tony Abbott, press conference, 22 August 2013)

“Closing Medicare Locals will rip around $1.8 billion out of health services in communities across the nation,” Ms Plibersek said.

“It’ll throw 3,000 health workers out of their jobs including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and psychologists.

“And it won’t stop there.

“Mr Abbott also confirmed he will have to find another $3 billion in health cuts to fund the removal of the means test from the private health insurance rebate - so once again a bank teller will subsidise the private health insurance of a bank CEO,” Ms Plibersek said.

“It is our firm intention to restore it [the private health insurance rebate] as quickly as we possibly can.” (Tony Abbott, press conference, 22 August 2013)

“All of this is on top of suggestions from the Coalition that they want to freeze health funding,” Ms Plibersek said.

“What we intend to do is to maintain existing levels of health funding.” (Tony Abbott, press conference, 22 August 2013)

“Health investment under the Rudd Labor Government will increase by about $11 billion over the next four years. But under Mr Abbott’s plan to freeze existing levels of funding there would be an effective cut of $11 billion to health,” Ms Plibersek said.

Ms Plibersek also said many of the Coalition’s health announcements today were just poor imitations of Labor policies already in place, including:

 Community involvement in the management of local hospitals ALREADY DELIVERED BY LABOR - Labor has already established 136 Local Hospital Networks devolving the management of hospitals to local communities.

 Activity based funding for hospitals ALREADY DELIVERED BY LABOR - Activity based funding was a key part of Labor health reform agenda, and has already started.

 Expanding infrastructure at existing general practices ALREADY DELIVERED BY LABOR - Federal Labor is already investing more than double what Mr Abbott promised today - around $117 million for more than 430 projects to upgrade existing GP clinics across Australia, a policy the Liberals opposed at the 2010 election.

“When Tony Abbott has Health Minister he presided over a health system in crisis,” Ms Plibersek said.

“In the lead up to the 2007 federal election, the Australian health system was in crisis.” (Professor Christine Bennett, Medical Journal of Australia, August 2013)

“Thanks to Federal Labor reforms since 2007, and our record investment, we’ve rebuilt a strong, smart, and fair health system for Australia,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Since 2007, Federal Labor has added an extra 11,000 doctors and 20,000 nurses to the system. When Mr Abbott was Health Minister there was a shortage of both doctors and nurses.

“The Rudd Labor Government is investing an extra $20 billion in public hospitals in the decade to 2020. When Mr Abbott was Health Minister he ripped $1 billion out of hospitals.

“And Federal Labor’s new $2.7 billion dental scheme for kids will mean that for 3.4 million children going to the dentist will be as easy as going to the doctor - with $1000 worth of dental work for each child every two years.”

Ms Plibersek said the Rudd Labor Government’s investment was at risk under Mr Abbott, as was the more than $500 million for health Federal Labor had announced during the campaign so far.

Federal Labor’s more than $500 million in health announcements so far includes:  $100 million for redevelopment at Westmead Hospital.  $50 million for better stroke care.  $125 million for a medical research innovation fund.

“Tony Abbott won’t say where all his health cuts will fall, but given his record as Health Minister, and the form of his state Liberal mates, we know they’ll be severe and deep,” Ms Plibersek said.