MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – Medicare
Mr PASIN (Barker) (16:00): One thing’s for sure: ‘Mediscare’ continues. Those opposite should have been embarrassed about that campaign, but instead they’ve boldly come in here and claimed the ‘Mediscare’ all over again. They come back into this place. They like to lecture us about raising the quality of class politics and the debates we need to have across the chamber. Yet secretly they continue a scare—a scare which saw me, during the election campaign, ringing hundreds of pensioners after hours to say: ‘Look, I understand you’ve expressed some concern about the fact that you’re being told that Medicare is about to be abolished. Sadly, that’s a misrepresentation which is being made by the Labor Party.’ And what was so sad about that was that these poor, vulnerable pensioners actually believed it.
Those opposite have a duty to be fair and reasonable, not engage in the spin. If this is a debate about who froze the Medicare rebate: I have young children, girls, and they love that movie Frozen. It’s a story about Anna and Kristoff, who bravely push onward in a race to save their kingdom from winter’s cold grip. I’d like to think that’s what we’re doing over here. We thawed the Medicare freeze. The member for Sydney’s cast in this movie; she’s the snow queen Elsa! She froze the Medicare rebate. But it was us on this side of the chamber who were cast in the role of Anna and Kristoff, bravely mountaineering on to unfreeze the rebate. We thawed it. It’s an inconvenient truth for those opposite. So, let’s face it: you froze it; we thawed it. We can agree on that. Let’s move on.
What else have they done? Their record is one of cutting. Labor cut $1 billion from Medicare for dental care and means tested it. Labor cut $500 million from Medicare for pathology. Labor cut $64 million from Medicare for GPs. Labor cut $450 million from Medicare’s safety net protections. Labor cut $2.5 billion from pharmacies and medicines. I wish this speech was allowed to go for 15 minutes; I could talk about all the cuts. But I will keep going. I’ll try to speed up my dictation. Labor blocked access to lifesaving medicines. Labor cut $4 billion from private health insurance rebates for consumers and means tested it. Labor refused to back its unfunded $57 billion hospital promise—their biggest cut in weighting. Labor promised 64 GP clinics; they delivered only 33. But, to be honest, for the Labor Party, 50 per cent achievement—pretty good! For the Labor Party, that’s kind of an A-grade outcome.
But the real issue here is that Labor promised to end the blame game, but we come into this place, MPI after MPI, and they say, ‘Oh, it’s all you!’ Well, I tell you, we agreed about it before. You froze it; we thawed it. What else have we done? Well, those opposite, who froze it—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Coulton ): The member for Shortland, a point of order?
Mr Conroy: I ask that remarks be put through the chair, as you have ruled with other speakers.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I remind the member for Barker to address his remarks through the chair.
Mr PASIN: Mr Deputy Speaker, that just gives me an opportunity to reiterate my point: those opposite froze it; we thawed it. You’re Elsa; we’re Anna!
Mr Conroy: Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order, he’s outside your ruling.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I will decide who’s following my rulings.
Mr PASIN: So I have another opportunity. Let’s be clear: those opposite froze it and we thawed it. Those opposite are Queen Elsa; we’re Anna. Who is the great heroine in this debate? Anna. Queen Elsa was saved by Anna. The telling fact is this: those opposite are the great champions of bulk-billing, but Labor had a bulk-billing rate of 81.9 per cent—that was Elsa’s effort—while Anna’s effort, those on this side, was 85.4 per cent. It was more, not less. (Time expired)