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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 4123


Mr WHITELEY (BraddonGovernment Whip) (13:16): What an interesting motion from the member for Newcastle! It was laid on very thick—so thick that if you put on your garden you could watch the veggies grow by the minute. The motion is full of Labor headquarters messaging. We understand that in this business there is a relative amount of spin—I accept that—but this is not spin; this is pure deceit. We are talking about a range of activities. There are eight or 10 points to this motion. Let us begin where the previous speaker left off: the MBS rebate pause. Who introduced the pause? It was the Labor Party.

Ms Plibersek interjecting

Mr WHITELEY: The member for Sydney over there tries to interject, but let me read what you said—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Claydon ): Member for Braddon, I will ask you to direct your comments to me in the chair.

Mr WHITELEY: I acknowledge that. Thank you. When Labor introduced this measure that they are now arguing against, the then health minister, the member for Sydney—listen carefully—said this: 'Doctors earn enough money to bear the Federal Government's controversial freeze on MBS rebates.' The previous speaker said that we are the ones who have something against doctors, dentists and specialists because they earn too much.

Let me remind you, this is what she also said: 'I understand that GPs have all sorts of expenses running their surgeries and employing staff and so on, but the average billing from Medicare is more than $350,000 a year.' In other words—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Excuse me, member for Braddon, there is a point of order.

Ms Hall: I would like to make an intervention and ask the member a question, if I may.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Will you take a question?

Mr WHITELEY: No.

Ms Hall: He is running scared!

Mr WHITELEY: The reality here is that the MBS rebate pause was put in place by the previous government under the direction of the member that sits in this chamber now, the member for Sydney. Do not come in here with your crocodile tears today, because it is just not going to wash.

Let's talk about pathology and radiation. What a tremendous contribution by my fellow Tasmanian the member for Lyons! He got it spot on. What happened? The previous Rudd government said, 'We'd like to increase the number of people who are being bulk-billed'—which was about 86 per cent at the time. They committed, rounded up, $600 million for an incentive of between $1.40 and $3.40 to try to encourage everyone in that space, but we know that about 80 per cent of the business in that space was taken up by two major companies.

So we go from talking about removing an incentive that has only increased by one per cent to these companies now saying, 'Whoa! We'll have to charge $30, $40, $50, $60, $100.' What the hell is that all about? $1.40 to $3.40 is being proposed to be taken away because the incentive that you put in did not work, and we have multinational companies actually saying, 'That's going to cost us $30, $40, $50 to $100.' How does that work? I do not know where that works. I am going to leave that. You can run the 'don't kill bulk-bill' campaign all you like, but the reality is you are supporting a strategy that basically puts very good profits into the hands of very big companies. Do they do a good job? I am sure they do. I agree with the member for Lyons; maybe it is time that we put this service out to tender. Maybe that is what we should be doing. I think the member for Lyons is spot on.

Let us talk about another one of these areas in the member for Newcastle's motion: the child dental and adult dental health scheme. What is really interesting here is that we heard a lot a minute ago about health and about how everyone should be treated equally—that it should not be about your postcode and your credit card. What did the previous government do? One: they put in place a scheme in which only a third of the eligible children have been treated. What an absolute joke.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr WHITELEY: It is like everything you do—it is never project managed and it never delivers. What did you say? You said that the child dental benefits schedule was just like Medicare except that it was means tested. Does this mean that Labor has a secret plan to means test Medicare? Well, we know that they love a good means test. Just look at the private health industry rebates.

At the end of the day, this motion that is before us today is just full of error, it is full of incomplete ideology, it is full of deceit. It is a deceitful motion. Everything that is going on around this is full of deceit, and the people are much smarter than that.

Debate adjourned.