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Tuesday, 15 December 1992
Page: 5054


Senator WALTERS (8.50 p.m.) —As the Minister will know, in those days there were other alternatives than the one his parents chose for him. After the hundred days, he could have very readily moved into the public hospital system. There was no need for him to stay in the private hospital system.


Senator Tate —No, I was in a public hospital.


Senator WALTERS —Then if the Minister were in the public hospital system, after the hundred days there would have been no further charge.


Senator Tate —There was.


Senator WALTERS —No, in those days there would not have been, not at all. As to what the Minister said a few moments ago, yes, under Fightback there would be a tax penalty, but we would not raise the Medicare levy for the poor as those opposite have done. From 1 June or 1 July the levy goes up to 1.4 per cent. We would not have done that. We have said no, that we will retain the levy, and anyone who wants to stay with Medicare can stay. We would not have raised the levy. Only people with the higher income would have had an increase if they did not decide to privately insure. Those opposite have raised it for the poor and they have raised it for people on the higher income.

  I ask the Minister not to misquote Fightback. We would have kept the levy for the poor the same; we would have allowed them to maintain Medicare if they chose. We would have said to the people who could afford it, `You will pay an additional levy'. It would not have been the poorer people but just the wealthier people who would have paid the additional levy—unless they had decided to take out private insurance, in which case for them the levy would not have been increased. We would have said to the poorer people, `If you want to privately insure, we will assist you and will pay some of that contribution for you'. So again I ask the Minister not to misquote Fightback. It does not do him justice if he seeks to make political points that are not correct and proper.

  Amendments negatived.