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Wednesday, 25 November 1998
Page: 621

Ms MACKLIN —My question is to the Minister for Finance and Administration. Are the cost estimates of the impact of the private health insurance rebate legislation based on the assumption of no increase in membership of private health insurance funds and no increase in premiums by those funds?

Mr FAHEY (Finance and Administration) —The government clearly indicated to the Australian people before the last election the importance of private health cover. It indicated that it was prepared to ensure that that would occur by providing funding, and of course that has been the subject of some considerable debate. A number of modellings have been done on it.

Ms Macklin —Oh, there are! When are they going to be provided?

Mr FAHEY —Clearly, there are always modellings done and there is a proposition—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The minister has the call.

Mr FAHEY —You clearly don't want the answer. You don't want to know the answer; you want to play silly games, as you have at all times on private health cover. You are not interested in seeing that we have a viable health system in this country. The government has made its decision and that decision was given to the Australian people beforehand. It was verified, unlike Labor promises before the last election where they were not prepared under the charter of budget honesty to put forward their fundings for costing.

Mr Beazley —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order relating to relevance. There was a specific question asked about whether or not the calculations that are to be put out in public were based on an assumption that there would be no increase in membership and no increase in the premiums. The question is: is it based on that?—nothing else.

Mr SPEAKER —I rule that the minister is in order, after all he is dealing with the whole question of private health insurance.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —The minister is in order.

Mr FAHEY —As I indicated, the matter that the government put before the Australian people was costed by Finance. When Finance costs any matter that the government makes a decision on, it is based on reasonable assumptions, it is based on objective assumptions and in this instance it factors in the current levels of premiums and the take-up rate that would be applicable. The outcome is that the government has announced the cost that is there—

Ms Macklin —Mr Speaker—

Mr FAHEY —Oh, sit down. It is based on all of the reasonable objective analysis that has been done, which the government accepts.

Ms Macklin —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order relating to relevance. The minister has indicated that he has the figures. What are they? What are the assumptions that he has made his costings on?

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Jagajaga knows she is asking, as it were, a supplementary question. The minister has answered the question.