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Thursday, 10 December 1998
Page: 1969

Mrs DRAPER (9:49 AM) —I would like to take this opportunity to say a few brief words in support of the government's Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1998 . Firstly, over 42,000 people in my electorate of Makin, or 56 per cent, are currently privately insured. Many more have said to me that they would take out private health insurance if there was a reasonable incentive for them to do so.

These are not wealthy people wanting subsidised tennis racquets, as the opposition has been wont to portray them. These are people who want choice when they have to go to hospital, who want choice in who treats them and who want choice when it comes to ancillary items such as dental and optical care. It is not good enough to say that these people are not entitled to a choice, that they should use the public health system whether they like it or not.

My constituents of Makin have every right to expect that they should have the power to choose the best health care available in this country. That is what this government's Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1998 seeks to provide—choice for families in electorates such as Makin.

As I said earlier, over 42,000 people in my electorate of Makin are privately insured. In 1984, shortly after the coalition left office, 50 per cent of the population had private health cover. Today that figure is at just 30.6 per cent. To oppose this new measure by the government is to consign the private health insurance sector to continued decline and, even more alarmingly, to increase the burden on our public hospital system.

The government's bill was a sensible measure aimed at reinforcing the choices made by individuals and their families. To oppose this bill is to be opposed to choice, opposed to helping families and opposed to better health care. I support my constituents of Makin having a choice in the provision of their medical services, I support better health care and I wholeheartedly support the government's Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1998.