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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Page: 1706

Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (13:43): The coalition's plan to introduce a GP tax will hit families in the Hunter and on the Central Coast very hard. In my electorate of Shortland, based on the current bulk-billing figures, the GP tax could cost families $4.4 million a year or more. In the Hunter it is similar. You can read today's, Newcastle Herald front page to learn more about it. The Herald highlights that the GP tax could cost Hunter families about $21 million a year, hitting those who can least afford it hardest. This is a huge amount for local families to be asked to pay.

The government is proposing that people pay a $6 fee every time they visit the doctor. This is not about wealthy people paying more for GP visits; this is about sick people paying more for GP visits—which is totally absurd.

Government members interjecting

I hear members on the other side of the House supporting the GP tax. I can tell them that the Consumers Health Forum of Australia has warned that the proposed tax will reduce access to health care and see people delay their doctor visits. Under the Howard government, the bulk-billing rate in Shortland was less than 60 per cent. Now it is almost 80 per cent. If this proposed GP tax goes ahead, however, it will erode the benefits of bulk billing. It will also mean that more people will visit their local hospital emergency unit—in order to avoid paying the GP tax. The tax will not help our public health system. It will simply put more pressure on our already stretched health services.