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Greens determined to help Labor do the right thing on private health.

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Senator Kerry Nettle

Senator for New South Wales

Greens determined to help Labor do the right thing on private health

Senator Nettle, 26th September 2004

Labor leader Mark Latham should remember the wisdom of his earlier criticism of the Private Health Insurance Rebate and commit a Labor government to scrapping it, Greens health spokesperson Kerry Nettle said today.

She was responding to Labor health spokeswoman Julia Gillard who said Labor would never negotiate on the future of the rebate, despite having signalled earlier that Labor would review the rebate that costs $2.5 billion a year.

"Mr Latham in 1999 described the private health insurance rebate as a 'first rate absurdity," and the 'maddest piece of public policy', he was right then and it's still true today," Senator Nettle said.

"The Greens are serious about our goal of seeing the private health insurance rebate scrapped and the funds returned to public health care. We will need to see some movement from the ALP regarding the private health insurance rebate, and we expect to.

"Julia Gillard knows this policy is a dud, and that Labor's supporters expect them to fix it in government.

"The private health insurance industry is desperate for Labor to continue this uncapped subsidy to buy private insurance. The Greens will be ensuring the interests of ordinary Australians are put before the interests of insurance lobbyists.

"If this election is a referendum on Medicare then the Ms Gillard and Mr Latham should have the guts to stand up for what they purport to believe and scrap the private health insurance rebate."

Contact Jon Edwards - 0428 213 146