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Costello can't answer the real questions on PBS.



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T R A N S C R I P T

Stephen Smith MP Member for Perth Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing

COSTELLO CAN’T ANSWER THE REAL QUESTIONS ON PBS

Wednesday 19th June 2002

In Question Time today Treasurer Peter Costello was asked whether it was true that Labor in Government had always more than fully compensated pensioners, through increases in the Pharmaceutical Allowance, for any PBS co-payment increases.

Mr Costello could not deny this fact.

Mr Costello was asked whether pensioners would be $88.40 a year worse off because of co-payment increases made by the Howard Government since 1996, if the current Bill passes the Parliament.

He denied the claim, saying “No”. However, he could not point to any increase in the Pharmaceutical Allowance paid to pensioners by the Howard Government. There has been none.

Mr Costello was also asked which of the diabetes, asthma and arthritis drugs currently awaiting PBS listing approval would not receive that approval as a result of his threat to not list drugs in the future, if the Government’s is not passed.

Mr Costello refused to rule out withholding the listing of any of these drugs.

Mr Costello was also asked whether his claim that the PBS is unsustainable at $4.2 billion a year was inconsistent with the advice of former Health Minister Michael Wooldridge, who said last June that it was sustainable at precisely that same amount.

Again, Mr Costello had no answer.

Finally, Mr Costello claimed that the Government had a mandate to increase PBS co-payments.

However, he failed to produce any documentary evidence that the Government ever had such a policy.

Mr Costello wants to slug pensioners with uncompensated PBS co-payment increases to pay for his Budget bottom line.

He has no justifications, no excuses.

He just smirks, while wanting pensioners to suffer a 30 percent increase in the cost of essential medicines.

Media Contact: Simon Banks - 0419 692 978.