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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Page: 1703

Mr CONROY (Charlton) (13:34): I rise today to draw the attention of the House to the deep concern being felt in Charlton about the prospect of the government's $6 GP tax. Currently almost 80 per cent of visits to doctors in my area are bulk-billed. If the GP tax is introduced, the people of Charlton alone would be forced to pay more than $4.3 million in extra doctor's fees each year. Recent analysis has shown that the impact on the Hunter will be an extra $21 million per year.

The people who will be hardest hit by this will be families, low-income earners and pensioners—people whose health is already vulnerable. The impact of this will be that people will not go to doctors, they will have less preventative health, people's health will suffer and we will be catching problems a lot later than we should be.

We will see more pressure on our local hospital system. As the husband of a nurse, I know how much public hospitals are under pressure and how every little bit more of work coming from GPs adds to their burden. This GP tax will hurt low-income earners, families and pensioners and it will place more burdens on our overstretched hospital system, adding further to our health budget issues. More importantly, it is something that the government promised they would not introduce. Before the election, Prime Minister Abbott made a series of promises which he is clearly looking at breaking now.

We in the Labor Party are proud that we invented Medicare and we will keep fighting for Medicare, because it is what people need.