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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9156


Ms KING (Ballarat) (14:37): My question is to the Prime Minister. One year ago today the Prime Minister promised a government of no surprises and no excuses. Dr Tony Bongiorno, a GP in my electorate of Ballarat, wrote to me recently about elderly patients with skin tears who need to visit the GP twice a week to have their wounds dressed. When did the Prime Minister tell GPs they would have to collect the GP tax from patients like these?

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:38): The Labor Party, under Bob Hawke, told people that this was a sensible, reasonable and decent thing to do. The Labor Party, under Bob Hawke, put a co-payment on the national agenda, just as they had earlier put a PBS co-payment on the national agenda.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will resume his seat. I call the member for Ballarat on a point of order—if it is on relevance. It is not an invitation to repeat the question.

Ms King: It is on relevance. The Prime Minister was asked when he informed people of his policy.

The SPEAKER: The member will resume her seat. The Prime Minister has the call.

Mr ABBOTT: I say to the member, who has asked the question again and again and again in one form or another: if it is right and proper to have a co-payment on the PBS, why is it not right and proper to have a modest co-payment on Medicare? All I can assume is that those opposite are going to abolish the PBS co-payment—and they will have to find billions and billions more to support this latest policy idiocy which is coming yet again from members opposite. Everyone knows what the opposition really think because the Labor shadow assistant treasurer has told us. And I presume that the people that the shadow minister for health has referred to have been informed by her that her side is deeply divided on this. Let me refer yet again to what Labor's shadow assistant treasurer said:

… there is a better way of operating a health system, and the change should hardly hurt at all. As economists have shown, the ideal model involves a small co-payment—

it won't hurt at all—

Mr Shorten interjecting

Mr ABBOTT: The Leader of the Opposition says, 'This is pathetic.' He should not abuse his own frontbencher like this. If what I am reading is so pathetic, how is that man still on the Labor frontbench? Bob Hawke, the father of the co-payment, was right; the member for Jagajaga, the midwife of the co-payment, was right; and so is Labor's assistant treasurer , the son of the co-payment. They are all right, and this government is right: a modest co-payment for Medicare makes sense, just as a modest PBS co-payment also makes sense.