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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3989

Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (11:02): The Abbott government's decision to rip $80 billion out of the health and education budget will have a dreadful impact in my electorate of Shortland. What the government has done is push the cost of health and education to the states. I find that really disturbing, particularly in the area of health. When the Prime Minister was health minister, I was the deputy chair of the health and ageing committee pre-2007. He was strongly pushing an agenda of the Commonwealth taking over control of hospitals. So, once again, we see a Prime Minister that has done a complete about-turn. And it shows that he probably does not have a belief in anything whatsoever other than his own ability or desire to be Prime Minister of this country.

The important substance of my contribution to this debate is about the impact that the GP tax will have on the people of Shortland electorate, how it will hurt and how it will lead to an increase in the price of medicines. Shortland electorate is an older electorate and this budget has been particularly harsh when it comes to its impact on older Australians. Pensioners are set to lose a considerable amount of their income under the proposed indexation scheme that has been outlined in this budget and will now face the impact of the $7 GP tax.

Currently, nearly 83 per cent of GP services are bulk-billed in Shortland electorate. When the Prime Minister was the health minister, that was under 60 per cent. Those bulk-billing services fell when the Prime Minister was health minister in the Howard government, and now he is waging an attack on bulk-billing yet again. It is something that I think he has been ideologically opposed to all his political life, and I think that, by imposing this GP tax on people, what he is doing is trying to end Medicare. He has previously stood up in parliament and said he was the best friend that Medicare ever had; we are seeing now what sort of a friend he is. I would say that, if that is the way he looks after his friends, that friendship is not worth having. This GP tax will fall disproportionately on older people in Shortland electorate. The majority of GP services for older Australians are bulk-billed.

I would like to share with the parliament just how it is going to impact on one pensioner in Shortland electorate. The brother of this pensioner wrote to me yesterday and said: 'My sister is an aged pensioner. She is a widow and therefore on a single pension—no other income. She was diagnosed with a serious liver and pancreatic disease. She saw her GP, who ordered blood tests over three consecutive days. Under this new arrangement, she will have to visit the GP to order the tests. She then has to have three blood tests, and then she has to go to the GP to get the results. That will be five visits at $7 a pop, and that will cost her $35 in that one week. This is outrageous. She has increased medication following the diagnosis, which means an increase in the costs of her medication. To be quite frank, at this stage in her life with a very serious illness, she does not need the financial concerns which will accompany this health issue she has.'

This is a heartless tax. This is a cruel tax. This is a tax that will impact on those people that can least afford it, and I say that the Abbott government stands condemned for the hurt it is going to impose on Australians. (Time expired)