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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 6 September 2006: sale of Medibank Private.

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Shadow Minister for Health Manager of Opposition Business


ISSUES: Sale of Medibank Private ______________________________________________________________________________

JULIA GILLARD: As every day goes by, the Howard Government’s case to sell Medibank Private falls further and further apart. There are legal doubts about who owns Medibank Private and the Howard Government still hasn’t released all of its legal advice and particularly hasn’t confirmed whether or not the Medibank Private board was advised that Medibank members had ownership rights in the fund. Yesterday, when the Minister for Health was asked in Question Time to justify the sale of Medibank Private he couldn’t even put a case for the sale, he simply sat down. And yesterday, in the Coalition party room meeting they were squabbling about what to do with the money from the sale.

Today, the leading economic commentator, Terry McCrann, has destroyed the Howard Government’s economic case for selling Medibank Private. The Howard Government claims this is all about increasing competition. The expert, Mr McCrann says that in fact this isn’t about increasing competition and that a privatised Medibank Private might find it difficult to compete with the not-for-profit sector. So Mr McCrann is actually saying Medibank Private could be damaged by selling it. It could lose market share and far from increasing competition, a sold Medibank Private might be unable to compete in the private health insurance sector. Mr McCrann today has called on Mr Howard to do what he did on the Snowy privatisation and to actually backflip on the sale. Mr Howard should take that advice.

JOURNALIST: The AMA has also suggested that premiums could go up, what is your response to that?

JULIA GILLARD: The AMA, the doctors, have endorsed Labor’s case that premiums will go up. Interestingly, the Government has been saying Labor’s arguments are spurious. Well there is an authoritative voice out there now endorsing Labor’s arguments, the Australian Medical Association. They know that the sale of Medibank Private is bad for patients because it will put premiums up.

JOURNALIST: Couldn’t their concern though be vested or self interested to do with their own payment levels against a multi-nationally owned private company?

JULIA GILLARD: Medibank Private in government ownership is known for striking tough deals with private hospitals and that affects what doctors get paid. So there is no suggestion that Medibank Private as it currently stands has given doctors a soft ride. I think the Australian Medical Association in this matter is completely motivated by the interests of Australian families and their patients. They don’t want people, unable to afford private health insurance because premiums go up because the Howard Government sold Medibank Private.