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Thursday, 25 September 2008
Page: 52

Mr DUTTON (2:42 PM) —My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, given that the Treasury estimates that 485,000 adults will drop out of private health insurance as a result of the government’s original Medicare levy changes, how many adults will drop out of private health insurance as a result of the government’s new proposed changes? Treasurer, if the changes to the Medicare levy are about tax cuts for families, why is the government making over $300 million out of this measure?

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) —I thank the member for his question. I do not necessarily accept the premise of the opposition’s critique of the proposal that we are putting.

Mr Dutton —What is Treasury’s advice?

Mr SWAN —The Treasury figures are indeed out there.

An opposition member—Do you accept Treasury’s figures?

Mr SWAN —Of course I accept the Treasury figures: less people will be dropping out. But I do not accept the opposition’s critique of the consequences of that. I do not accept it for one minute because your critique says that that therefore has an extraordinary impact elsewhere in the health system. You come in here and carry on about the public hospital system, when this government has put an additional $1 billion into the public hospital system. They have the hide in the Senate to vote down a tax cut for hundreds of thousands of working families. You should be absolutely embarrassed by your performance in the Senate.

We will run the bill back up into the Senate, we will appeal for the support of the minor parties and the support of the Greens and we will get the support of the Australian people, because they deserve some tax relief, which has been denied them by the Liberal and National parties.

Why is there an advantage in the first year? Because the indexation arrangements are entirely different. That is why. In the first year it does cost more, but in the end there is a greater saving. That is the case. If you are incapable of understanding that and incapable of understanding the Treasury modelling you are not fit to be the health spokesman.