Nationals abandon regional Australia on PBS promise

Before the election, National Party candidates were hopping from country town to country town, promising regional Australians their wellbeing would be front and centre of a Liberal National Government.

In their policy document, Our Plan for Regional Australia, members indicated they wanted to lower the PBS safety net, stating:

“In government we will examine the implications of changing the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme safety net threshold for single persons to half that applying to couples and families.’

[Our Plan for Regional Australia, page 51]

This has been revealed to be nothing more than a hollow promise. National Party members were rolled yet again by their Liberal colleagues today, with Minister for Health Peter Dutton introducing Government legislation that will increase concessional safety net threshold by 10 per cent every year, as well as the cost of prescriptions to $42.70 for general patients and $6.90 for concessioners.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear National members have no say in policy development and no influence on policies that are hitting rural and regional Australians much harder than those in the cities.

“In introducing this legislation today, the Abbott Government has shone a harsh light on their National Party colleagues complete disregard for the health of rural and regional Australians”, said Stephen Jones.

“We know that rural and regional Australians have a higher rate of chronic disease than those in metropolitan areas, and often require multiple scripts each month.

“I’m extremely concerned that over 8 per cent of patients are already delaying getting their prescriptions filled or not filling them at all because of the cost involved.

“This number is only going to increase with the Abbott Government’s reckless hike to the cost of medicines and the concessional safety net threshold.

“The introduction of the legislation today is just another kick in the guts for regional Australians, who already feel betrayed by the National Party.

“It comes on top of the confession by the Minister in charge of regional health, Fiona Nash that she was not involved or even consulted in the creation of the GP Tax, or even requested any modelling on how the GP Tax will impact on the health of rural and regional Australians.

“Australians living in rural and regional Australia and already struggle with access to primary healthcare.

“They deserve a Government that will champion their health needs, not a one that makes hollow promises to get in to office and then completely disregards them after.”