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Thursday, 16 October 2008
Page: 6209

Senator CORMANN (1:30 PM) —Yesterday Senator Xenophon asked me a few questions and I gave it my best to sincerely, openly and transparently answer them. In light of the fact that I am not getting any satisfaction from the government, and considering that the government is not prepared to provide answers to the Australian people about the impact on public hospitals and private health insurance premiums, I thought I would try my luck with Senator Xenophon. Senator Xenophon, the fact that the government expect to save $740 million from not having to pay the private health insurance rebate to people shows that they expect people to leave private health insurance. This is not us making it up; these are Treasury forecasts. Considering the $740 million is only 30 per cent of the funding that will be walking out the door, what sort of assurances have you received from the government about how they will make up that $2.5 billion shortfall in the health system? That is a question I would also like to address to Senator Siewert. She says here that she has been given assurances that there would not be a negative impact on public hospitals. What sorts of assurances has Senator Siewert received? What sort of compensation is the federal government going to offer the states and territories for the impact of this? My second question to Senator Xenophon is: what indications has the government given to you of expected future health insurance premium increases as a result of this measure? What is going to be the increase in health insurance premiums as a result of this measure that the government has told you about?