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No support for Rudd's pla to scrap Medicare Dental Scheme.

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Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health (to 22 September 2008)

The Hon Joe Hockey MP Manager of Opposition Business in the House Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing (to 22 September 2008)

Coalition Senators have defeated another attempt by the Rudd Government to scrap the Medicare Dental Scheme.

This is the Rudd Government’s second attempt to end this program, following on from success of Senator Colbeck’s motion of Disallowance on June 19, 2008, when the Government tried to repeal the scheme’s Medicare item numbers.

Shadow Minister for Health, Joe Hockey MP said, `the Rudd Government has been defeated again today because the benefits this scheme provides are obvious and overwhelming.

`The two new programs proposed by the Rudd Government simply do not support the chronically ill who develop acute and costly dental problems.’

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Senator Richard Colbeck said, `the Medicare Dental Scheme provides eligible patients with up to $4250 of rebates over two years for dental treatment.

`Under the Commonwealth Dental Health Program, patients would receive an average of $14.63 for treatment. This is simply inadequate for patients who require complex procedures and an average of four appointments per course of care.

`The Government has attempted to flout the power of the Senate by moving this motion to rescind the June 19 disallowance decision and they have been defeated.

`The Government’s weak argument that they need to close the Medicare Dental Scheme in order to fund the Commonwealth Dental Health Program is nonsense.

`The Rudd Government has already underspent on its election promise of $800,000 for dental programs.

`There is a short fall of $150 million between what was promised before the election and what is now being touted so if Labor is scratching for funds, here’s one place to start.

`Another would be the much-talked about $22 billion Budget surplus. The amount needed for the proposed Commonwealth Dental Health Program is relatively small by comparison.’

Mr Hockey also said, `the Opposition supports a comprehensive Commonwealth funded dental program but we do not support robbing Peter to fund Paul.’