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Wednesday, 22 August 1984
Page: 131

Senator JESSOP —I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether it is a fact that the Medicare levy is estimated to raise $1,191m in 1984-85 while the estimated cost of Medicare is $2,050m. Is it also true that the cost of administering Medicare has risen by over $100m this year to almost $300m for 1984-85? Does this mean that the one per cent levy will have to be at least doubled to pay for the Government's extravagant program of socialised medicine?

Senator GRIMES —I would assume that even--

Senator Walters —You won't have to increase the levy, just take it all out of Consolidated Revenue.

Senator GRIMES —Before Senator Walters makes remarks like that she should declare her interest in matters like this. I understand that Senator Jessop's figures as to the amount of money raised by the Medicare levy and the total amount of costs of the health insurance scheme would be accurate. I assume the honourable senator can get those figures from the Budget Papers as anyone else can. The honourable senator makes what I would like to think was a mistake, but what I know is a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the situation when he says that a one per cent Medicare levy was introduced to pay for the whole of the health scheme and the health insurance scheme. He knows that is not so. If he does not he had better ask Senator Baume, his colleague, who knows that is not so. The levy was introduced to pay for the costs of Medicare on top of the costs of the health scheme as it existed before. Under the previous Government, the Liberal National Party Government, there were costs of health, even though from the rhetoric we get from the other side one would never imagine that. When people like Senator Chaney and Senator Jessop talk about socialised medicine they are talking through their collective hats. Under Medicare private practice exists and thrives. Under the national health insurance scheme private hospitals continue to thrive as does private practice in hospitals.

Senator Walters —Rubbish.

Senator GRIMES —If Senator Walters takes the contrary view, she can again declare her interest by bringing in figures from practices with which she has an association and demonstrate otherwise. I bet now that she cannot do so. The simple fact is that there will be no need to double the Medicare levy. There has been no need to do so in the past. I have been asked a political question, and I shall not grace it with any further answer.