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Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Page: 2263

Private Health Insurance

Ms CATHERINE KING (Ballarat) (14:08): My question is to the Prime Minister. APRA has revealed that private health insurers received $3.2 billion more in premiums than Australians received in health benefits last year. Why is this inept Prime Minister giving a $65 billion handout to big business, including big insurers, instead of trying to help ordinary Australians with the cost of private health insurance?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:09): I thank the honourable member for her question, because it gives me the opportunity to remind her of the very sound observations made by her leader, only a few years ago, that reducing business tax results in more investment, more productivity and more jobs. The reality is he was right then, but he's wrong now.

One thing we know is that he says whatever suits his purpose at the time. He told the workers at Oaky North he was pro-coal, but he told Geoff Cousins he is going to withdraw the licence for the Adani mine and put those workers out of a job.

Ms Catherine King: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order on direct relevance. The question was about why he is backing—

The SPEAKER: The member for Ballarat will resume her seat. She's got a bad history on points of order. The Prime Minister has the call.

Mr TURNBULL: I will invite the Minister for Health to discuss health insurance, also raised in the question.

Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Health) (14:10): Thank you very much, Prime Minister. Labor hates private health insurance, and it gets worse. Here's the context. Let me quote from the Leader of the Opposition just a couple of weeks ago:

… the big health insurers are making profits of 25 per cent.

Here is what APRA said. This is from the very body that has just been quoted by the hapless shadow health minister. APRA said not 25 per cent, not 20 per cent, not 15 per cent and not 10 per cent. APRA said in their most recent report they had a 5.5 per cent net margin. The Leader of the Opposition inflated it not once, twice, three times or four times but nearly five times. He has been caught out with a shameless fabrication.

But, better still, what did APRA, the very body named by the hapless shadow health minister, also say following Labor's recent comments about private health? It said, 'It is very much in the community's interests that the current reform process continues,' referring to what this government has done in delivering the lowest change in private health insurance in 17 years, lower than every single year under Labor. Then, devastatingly for the ALP, APRA went on to say:

APRA does not consider industry profits or capital levels to be the primary drivers of rising premiums.

What a bunch of frauds they are on the other side.

Worse still, though, for all of their hate of private health, for all of their fraudulent position, those opposite have a proposal to slash the rebate and drive up private health insurance costs by 16 per cent. At the end of the day, they're private health frauds and they're medi-frauds. The member for Sydney said it absolutely best last time—'Everything I did, I did by targeting private health insurance.'