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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 4321

Senator O'NEILL (New South Wales) (12:55): Labor is the party of Medicare. We invented it and we'll always protect it. That's not to say it's perfect; with a program of this size, there are always going to be problems that need to be managed and improvements that could be made. This government bill implements a 2017 budget measure to improve Medicare Benefits Schedule compliance and debt recovery practices and will result in estimated combined savings over the forward estimates of $103 million. Labor will support this bill. We're always willing to support sensible improvements to Medicare.

What we don't support is this government's overall approach to Medicare. It took two Labor governments more than two decades to shape and embed the Medicare system that we know today. Many Australians today take Medicare for granted. They can't imagine a time when it didn't exist. That is exactly as it should be. Australians should be able to rely on Medicare whenever they need it, without worry, without a second thought. But let's never forget that the conservatives opposed Medicare every step of the way. Labor had to fight to set it up and now we're fighting to protect it.