Statements By Members; My Challenge to Governmenr Backbenchers

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:54): My challenge this afternoon to all of those coalition backbenchers is to stand in this parliament today and defend the GP tax and defend their minister, because, God knows, he is looking very lonely indeed. Not the Prime Minister's office, not half the cabinet—if we can believe what we have read in this morning's newspapers—are willing to stand there and defend this rotten tax. There is a good reason for that. One of the great things about being an Australian is that, when you go to the doctor, it is your Medicare card, not your credit card, that matters. That is one of the great things about being Australian. Not for us the US system, where people die of preventable diseases because they cannot afford to go to the doctor. It is not free—people know they pay their Medicare levy—but it provides a universal system of health cover which is the envy of the rest of the world.


After breaking his solemn promise to the Australian people that there would be no changes to Medicare, the Prime Minister has been at sixes and sevens on this issue over the last 24 hours. I think things could not get worse: cabinet ministers briefing against cabinet ministers, but we had the minister out on the doors saying, 'It's not dead; it's just resting.' Well, put it to bed. (Time expired)