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Monday, 5 March 2001
Page: 24909

Ms HOARE (1:55 PM) —I present this petition to you and members of the House of Representatives assembled in parliament. This petition of 47 citizens of Australia draws to the attention of the House the lack of bulk-billing general practitioners in the Morisset, Cooranbong and Dora Creek areas. This is further to the petition of 476 citizens which I presented last week. This situation disadvantages aged pensioners, low income earners and the unemployed who cannot afford up-front payment for medical services. Your petitioners therefore ask the House to increase the Medicare rebate for doctors' services and provide other incentives to encourage general practitioners to bulk-bill. In 1996, when the coalition was first elected, 80.6 per cent of all GP services were bulk-billed. The average figure today is 77.6 per cent. I and my Hunter colleagues have met with the Hunter Urban Division of General Practice to discuss the decline in bulk-billing, which is down to 60 per cent in the Hunter; doctor shortages; and other issues concerning health services in the Hunter. We will continue to work together to ensure that our constituents' health is not put at risk because of the ideological dismantling of Medicare by this current government. I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate Chris Osborne, Des Hughes and all the members of SMARTs—Support Medicare and Retain Totally Bulk Billing—on the effort that they have made to pursue this issue both locally and nationally. I say `nationally' because Des was interviewed about the long-term viability of bulk-billing on the 7.30 Report in early January. (Time expired)