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Tuesday, 2 December 2003
Page: 23420

Mr LATHAM (Leader of the Opposition) (2:14 PM) —On this, the 31st anniversary of the Australian people voting for a universal public health system, my question is to the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister recall telling the A Current Affair program on 25 September:

I thought we had a very good system in the very early 1970s before there were some changes made that I don't think made it better; I think it made it worse.

Doesn't this statement confirm the Prime Minister's opposition to a universal Medicare and his support for the health system we had in the early 1970s, a system with means-tested fees for public hospitals and no bulk-billing doctors?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I suppose people's views of memory are a little different, depending of course on where they come from in the Australian political spectrum.

Mr Melham —`Never, ever'!

Mr HOWARD —Come on, Daryl, don't get too excited. You've had a good day, I know, but don't get too excited.

Mr HOWARD —You can't help yourself, can you, Daryl?

The SPEAKER —Prime Minister!

Mr HOWARD —Mr Speaker, a lot of people think this is the 31st anniversary of the election of the worst government this country has had since the end of World War II. But I will put that aside in this new spirit of bipartisanship and say that, as far as we on this side of the House are concerned, once again we reject the fact basis of the Leader of the Opposition's question—for the third time. It does not prove anything of the kind. I go back to what I said in my first answer, and that is: if we are to have an end to the days of opposition for opposition's sake, why do they oppose a safety net? What is wrong with a safety net? How could anybody object to a safety net? I can understand them objecting to other things, but a nice, simple, protective, cuddly safety net—how could they possibly object to it?