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How to spend the surplus and get legislation through the Senate.

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Senator Meg Lees

MEDIA RELEASE Senator for South Australia

How to spend the surplus and get legislation through the Senate Given a Choice, Most Australians Want Medicare, Not Tax Cuts Australian Progressive Alliance Senator, Meg Lees, today said she believes most Australians would prefer a properly funded universal health system to further tax cuts. Senator Lees, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Medicare, conducted a survey of thousands of South Australians this year. “When asked to express a preference between tax cuts and more funding for health, an overwhelming 83% of respondents said they want more money spent on Medicare,” said Senator Lees. “Most Australians know there is little value in another tax cut, most of which goes to high income earners, if the price of a visit to the GP and prescription drugs have skyrocketed. “The Senate’s Medicare committee has heard evidence that the Government’s Medicare reform package will reduce the rate of bulk billing to just 50% of GP visits. “If the Government committed an extra $1 billion to its Medicare reform package to provide some real support to GPs, the legislation would have a far better chance of making it through the Senate,” said Senator Lees. “We now see that the Government’s legislation to increase the cost of pharmaceuticals by 30% is not necessary. The money is already in kitty! The PBS bill should be scrapped altogether. “For the higher education reform package to get through the Senate, the Government could consider spending some of the surplus on reducing fees for students and putting some real dollars into scholarships. “Extra funding for Medicare, the PBS and higher education would be far more beneficial to most Australian families, particularly low-income families, than another round of tax cuts,” Senator Lees concluded. Media Enquiries: Kerrie Thornton 08 8331 8111 or 0438 816 376 1 October 2003 01/10/2003