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Thursday, 27 November 2014
Page: 9556

Budget


Senator CAROL BROWN (Tasmania) (15:00): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, Senator Nash. Has the government shelved its $7 GP tax?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Health) (15:00): Perhaps the senator was not listening to the answer I gave a little earlier in the chamber, but I am happy to again traverse the responses I gave to a very similar question to one of the senators earlier. I did indeed indicate earlier in the chamber that the Prime Minister and the government are absolutely committed to long-term, sustainable health in this nation. He has been absolutely committed to that. It is interesting that those on the other side ask a question relating to the—

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock.

Senator Moore: Mr President, I rise on a point of order on direct relevance. There was only one part to this question and it was about the $7 GP tax.

The PRESIDENT: Order! You are correct, Senator Moore: there was only one part to the question. The minister has one minute and 26 seconds left to answer the question, and I remind the minister of the question.

Senator NASH: And we have not changed our position on our election commitments. As I was saying, it takes the coalition government to understand what is necessary when it comes to delivering a health system that is sustainable into the future. Indeed, those on the other side simply do not care about a sustainable system into the future.

Senator Wong: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. There was a single question: has the government shelved its $7 GP tax? That is the only question. I ask you to return the minister to the question.

Senator Abetz: On the point of order, everybody knows that, in relation to the $7 co-payment, it is all about the sustainability of Medicare. That was the basis on which it was introduced and therefore sustainability in relation to the co-payment is absolutely and directly relevant.

The PRESIDENT: On the point of order, Senator Wong and others, I did hear Senator Nash say that it is still the government's commitment.

Senator Conroy: Election commitment.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: I am not disputing that the word 'election' may have been used. It is difficult to hear sometimes, especially from that end of the chamber with noise at this end of the chamber. I will remind the minister again of the question. She has one minute and three seconds left to answer the question.

Senator NASH: We are committed to a sustainable health system. The reason we have brought forward the co-payment is because we believe that will contribute to ensuring the health system is sustainable into the future. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition would be better focused on the sustainability of the future of the nation. When we look at her failure as the former finance minister, it is no surprise that those opposite simply have no vision whatsoever for the future sustainability of the health system in this nation.












Senator CAROL BROWN (Tasmania) (15:03): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I ask the minister again: has the government shelved its $7 GP tax—yes or no?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Health) (15:04): No, the Prime Minister has been absolutely committed to putting the policies in place that we need to make the health system sustainable in the future. I do not know how many times we have to repeat it on this side of the chamber that we will be taking the steps to ensure we have that sustainability. Those on the other side might not care about the future sustainability of this nation, but we do. Labor has absolutely given up on the long-term national interest of this nation. They are prepared to play short-term politics and not focus on the long-term sustainability of this nation. They had six long years, as I said before, to prove to the Australian people that they had some sort of plan for the future, but there was nothing. We were elected to fix the debt and deficit mess and elected to fix the future of this nation, and that is what the government is going to do.


Senator CAROL BROWN (Tasmania) (15:05): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Will the minister rule out introducing a GP tax by regulation?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Health) (15:05): I am not ruling anything in or out except the fact that this government is the only option that the Australian people have for a good government that is going to deliver a sustainable health system into the future, and they know it. Eight billion dollars 10 years ago on the MBS; $19 billion today; $34 billion it is going to cost the nation in 10 years time. It is not sustainable. The coalition government understands that. The Australian people understand that. The only people, in fact, who do not understand that are those sitting opposite—the Labor Party. They had every opportunity in government to put some sort of plan to the Australian people about how they would make the health system sustainable and they failed—absolutely nothing from the previous Labor government. The Australian people know it and that is why they elected the coalition government.

Senator Abetz: Mr President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.