Bill's Speeches

SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS MOTION - SAVE MEDICARE - HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA - MONDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2016

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I said earlier today that there would be times when we disagree and Medicare is a fundamental fault line between the Government and the Opposition. 

Today marks 100 days since the election.

100 days since voters in Lindsay and Herbert and Bass and Cowan and 12 other former Coalition seats voted to save Medicare.

And, as we all know that means it’s been about 99 and a half days since the Prime Minister’s post-election speech in the early hours of Sunday morning after the election.

Also technically known as a tantrum.

And what a performance that was!                                   

Winston Churchill at least wanted to fight them on the beaches. 

Martin Luther King had a dream.

Gough Whitlam told us ‘It’s Time’.

And Malcolm said…. “Call the police! We was robbed!’

In those early hours of Sunday morning Australians heard from a Prime Minister in denial, lashing out, blaming everyone but himself.
Forgot to acknowledge any of the members who had followed him over the cliff to their electoral defeat. 

But by Tuesday, he’d changed his tune. Suddenly he emerged, weaving a tale of faux contrition.

The Liberal party, he said, never himself. The Liberal party, he said, had a problem with Medicare.

Australians didn’t trust the Liberals with their healthcare. 

He said and I quote:

“We have to do more to reaffirm the faith of the Australian people in our commitment to health and to Medicare.”

He went on:

“We will work harder, much harder, I would like Australians to believe that a commitment to Medicare is completely bipartisan.”

Since then, what has happened since then to breathe any life into the faux contrition? What has he done about Medicare and the policies they took to the election? Absolutely nothing. 

The Prime Minister admitted he has a problem with Medicare – but has shown no interest in fixing it.

Not one change of policy, not a single dollar of cuts undone.

He's back flipped on the backpacker tax

He's back flipped on his iron clad to superannuation.

But when it comes to cutting Medicare, he knows which side he's on. 

What else would you expect, in fact, from a Liberal party that is ideologically opposed to universal healthcare.

They have always championed a two-tier American style healthcare system.

A government which for three years has done everything it can to push the price of healthcare back onto Australian families.

Every parent knows the feeling, when your child has a cough that sounds like it’s getting worse, a temperature that’s climbing, a fever that won’t simply break.

In that moment, you’d give up everything, you’d sell the shirt off your back and the roof over your head.

But because of Medicare – we don't have to do this.

Because of Medicare, the idea at the core of Medicare – that every Australian can get the care when they need it, the care that they need.

Australians take pride in Medicare – and what it means.

Medicare speaks for our distinctive Australian character, our egalitarian tradition of the fair go.

But the Liberals have spent the last three years trying to hollow-out Medicare, taxing it, cutting it, eating away at its very foundations

Seeking to tear Medicare down, brick by brick, piece by piece.

The government’s record on Medicare speaks for itself:

Cutting bulk-billing, so 14.5 million patients pay more to see a GP.

14.5 million Australians will have to pay more to see a GP because of the Turnbull Government. 

The College of GPs recently found 1 in 3 GPs are already revising their business models because they cannot stay viable under the Medicare freeze.

Out-of-pocket costs health costs have increased by 19 per cent under this government.

A typical family with two children, with no health scares, the Liberal cuts will mean an extra $400 a year in doctors’ bills

Cutting funding for children’s dental – a massive cost-of-living hit to working class families.

Cuts of billions from our hospitals, overcrowding emergency rooms, increasing waiting times for beds, knee operations, hip replacements. 

Increasing the price of medicine, so even pensioners will pay more every time they need a rescription                                                                                                                                                         

Cost already deters 1 in 12 Australians from seeing a specialist – and yet this government is imposing new upfront fees and charges for scans, for blood tests, x-rays, diagnostic imaging.

Vulnerable Australians in the fight of their lives, deserve a government alongside them in that fight. Instead they are being forced to pay:

$100 extra for a mammogram.

$300 for a Mum being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Over $1000 for an Australian to deal with melanoma.

And 100 days after the election, the faux contrition – nothing has changed.

This motion before the House asks the Prime Minister to put his money where his mouth is.

This motion asks those Coalition members currently for Gilmore, Coalition members for Capricornia, for Robertson, for Leichardt, Dawson, Dunkley and La Trobe.

You cannot come to this Parliament and vote in defence of cuts to Medicare and think you can go home to your electorates without those electorates hearing about it.

This is a test for every Government member of Parliament.
You cannot complain about Labor's campaign on Medicare if you will not vote to reverse the cuts.
Anything else you'll be caught on.  

We don’t want any more press conferences, or long-winded lectures.

We want them to see them: 

  • Guarantee to keep Medicare in public hands as a universal health insurance scheme, what’s wrong with that?
  • Guarantee to protect bulk billing so that every Australian family can get in to see their doctor when they need to, nothing wrong with that.        
  • Reverse the harmful cuts to Medicare by unfreezing MBS indexation
  • Reverse the cuts for vital pathology and diagnostic imaging tests
  • Abandon the plans to increase the cost of prescription medicines  
  • Develop a long-term agreement to properly fund our public hospitals 

This is a lesson that the Government needs to learn: 

If it’s not affordable, if it’s not accessible, if it’s not available to everyone - it’s just not Medicare.

Sadly, the Liberals have always looked at Medicare as a cost to cut.

They know its price – they just don't understand its value.

Medicare is not just a brand name or a branch office or a multinational company.

It’s not a conglomerate where you strip out the assets for a corporate raider. 

In the Labor Party, we do not believe in outsourcing the responsibility we owe to our fellow Australians.

We cannot imagine caring for one another is something that should drive private profits.

We know Medicare is not a hedge fund, it is a national institution, a community standard.

It is the Australia we tell our children to believe in. The nation that we want to see in the mirror.

The great egalitarian idea that universal healthcare is the fundamental basis of a fair go all round.

Labor will fight for the great Australian idea that universal healthcare stands for the notion of the fair go all round. It's the bedrock of fairness. 

Now this motion is a test for the government.

They can vote to save Medicare – or they can lock in behind their plans to undermine it, step by step, piece by piece, brick by brick.

It is time for the Liberals and the Nationals on the backbench to tell Australians where they stand.

It is this simple. 

Today the members of the government can vote for bulk-billing or against it.

Today government members can vote for affordable medicine, or against it

Today government backbenchers can vote for children’s dental, or against it.

They can stand up for Australians who need a mammogram or a blood test – or they can vote against it.

It's as simple as this, this motion is not about the conclusion of the last election it's about an issue which Labor will pursue every day, every week, every month, to the next election and the government members of Parliament can either vote to save Medicare and defend or they can vote against it. 

Australians will be watching you.

And Australians will mark you down. 

And we will talk in all of your electorates about the hypocritical position of Government members who in their electorate say they love Medicare and in the House they vote to hurt it.

ENDS


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