Bill Shorten has ramped up his attack on the private health insurance rebate, likening it to negative gearing – which he is going to slash.
“Did you know that we subsidise the property industry with negative gearing subsidies? You know, that’s billions of dollars. Did you know that with the diesel fuel rebate we subsidise the mining industry – and we’re keeping that, before anyone says anything – but it is a subsidy. Did you know that we subsidise private health insurance in Australia north of $6 billion a year?”
Whilst Mr Shorten was quick to say he was retaining the diesel fuel rebate, he failed to provide the same assurance for private health insurance.
The follows a previous refusal to rule out scrapping the rebate and comes after Opposition Health spokesperson, Catherine King, also refused to rule out axing the full rebate, saying Labor will not make any commitments ahead of undertaking a Productivity Commission review.
Mr Shorten must rule out axing the private health insurance rebate. It is telling that both he and Catherine King have repeatedly refused to do so.
More than 45 per cent of people with private health insurance have an income under $50,000. They are the ones who will be hit with higher costs if the rebate is scrapped.
In March this year, Labor was forced into admitting that they plan to rip the rebate away from basic policies which are held by over 65,000 hardworking Australian families, particularly senior Australians living in regional Australia.
Extending this cut to the full rebate will create a more than $70 billion health tax, lead to longer wait times at hospitals for surgery and drive up premiums.
The Morrison Government recognises the important role private health insurance plays in the health system. We have introduced reforms to make it simpler and more affordable, and increased access to mental health services and discounts for young people.
Now is not the time to turn back to a Labor Government which previously cut $4 billion for private health insurance.