Hands off regional health, Hockey

Labor is calling on the Abbott Government to immediately rule out more cuts to rural and regional health following the Treasurer’s announcement today that he is looking for more cuts to rescue his shambolic Budget.

Joe Hockey’s arrogant threats to hurt Australians more won’t hide the fact that he has failed to get his unfair Budget through the Parliament.

Bill Shorten and Labor will fight this Budget because it is unfair and based on lies to the Australian people.

Now, if the Senate chooses to block savings initiatives, then we need to look at other savings initiatives that may not require legislation and I would ask the Greens and the Labor Party who between them hold 35 votes on the floor of the Senate - to understand that there are alternatives for a Government.


“The Abbott Government’s Budget has already declared war on the health of rural and regional Australians”, said Shadow Assistant Minister for Health, Stephen Jones.

“Introducing a $7 GP Tax for all patients, including pensioners and concession card holders and charging more for prescriptions will cost patients living outside metropolitan centres over $1.3 billion.

“This is on top of the Government’s plan to increase the PBS Safety Net, which means a general patient and their family has to fork out about $145.30 more to reach the Safety Net before they can access medicines at the concessional rate.

“These taxes and price hikes are a clear broken promise to regional Australia, but what’s worse is that they just won’t work.

“Over a third of Australians live in rural and regional areas and are already struggling to access the basic medical care most city dwellers take for granted. 

“They face a tough situation. There is a critical gap in their health services and outcomes. They pay more out of pocket. They wait longer for a diagnosis. They travel further for treatment. They die sooner than they need to.

“Slugging rural and regional patients with a GP Tax and hiking the price of their medications will only exacerbate inequalities between those who live in the city and those who do not”, said Jones.

“Regional Australians deserve a Government that will champion their needs.

“Labor is the party that created Medicare, the PBS and put hospital funding on a sustainable footing. We will always fight to ensure that people in rural and regional Australia get the healthcare they need, not the healthcare they can afford.”