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$2.5 billion of waste for Mr Latham to start working on.

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Senator Meg Lees Australian Progressive Alliance Senator for South Australia 2 July 2003


$2.5 billion of Waste for Mr Latham to Start Working On

Australian Progressive Alliance Senator, Meg Lees, today welcomed the statement from new Labor Treasury Spokesman, Mark Latham, that his first priority will be developing policies to give Australian taxpayers better value for money.

Senator Lees said she hopes this means the Labor Party will commit to removing the 30% Private Health Insurance Rebate, which is currently wasting at least $2.5 billion a year.

“It is good to hear Labor frontbenchers talking about reducing waste and mismanagement,” said Senator Lees.

“The Private Health Insurance Rebate, which increases every time health insurance companies up their premiums, is a great place to start.

“I have opposed the rebate from the time the legislation was introduced in the Senate in 1998.

“If the Labor Party is serious about reducing waste, it should, at the very least, cap and means test the rebate and spend the $1 billion in savings directly on the public health system.

“I have also heard Labor frontbenchers talking recently of bringing dental care into the Medicare mix. This is another idea worthy of support,” said Senator Lees.

“While pensioners wait years for dental treatment in this country, it is outrageous that the Government subsidises the dental treatment of high income earners through a 30% rebate on private health insurance.

“Every state and territory government and almost every health economist in Australia has called on the Federal Government to review the 30% rebate,” said Senator Lees.

“I hope the Opposition has the political courage to stand by the position it adopted in opposing the rebate in 1998, calling it the “worst example of public policy ever seen in this parliament.” (Hansard, 10/12/98)

For comment: Senator Lees 0418 804 505