Health is emerging election issue

The Turnbull Government spent last week attempting to show voters it is serious about healthcare. Unfortunately the reality is that the Government has no plans on taking healthcare seriously.

Last week the Turnbull Government was trying to claim that giving private pathology providers assistance with their collection centre rent would somehow mean they won’t charge up-front fees for tests. And this week we had the Turnbull Government trying to make the case that it was the fault of Treasury that they couldn’t take away the Medicare freeze they had implemented.

Let’s not forget that the Turnbull Government slashed billions of dollars from hospitals and primary care while at the same time instituting a freeze on Medicare rebates. It was remarkable to read in the media that Health Minister Sussan Ley also thought freezing Medicare rebates was not a good idea. But instead of owning up to the mistake like adults, Sussan Ley instead chose to blame Treasury for not letting the government unfreeze the rebates. To put it simply, Sussan Ley must not understand her job if she doesn’t know that Treasury does as the Government dictates. If the Turnbull Government truly believed that a freeze on Medicare rebates was a bad idea they could remove them without Treasury’s prior approval.

The Turnbull Government also attempted to sound tough on mental health and suicide prevention but failed to outline any policies or how they would tackle these issues. But here to the reality is that the Turnbull Government slashed millions of dollars from mental health and family violence services. And when the Prime Minister was put on the spot he refused to commit to a national suicide prevention program.

It’s simply not good enough for Malcolm Turnbull and Sussan Ley to make un-supported claims about how they’re improving our healthcare system to make it sustainable. It’s especially galling when the reality is since coming to power in 2013, the Abbott-Turnbull coalition have slashed billions from public hospitals, put a freeze on Medicare rebates, increased the cost medicines (including co-payments for some PBS-listed medicines) and increased the cost of getting pathology tests and diagnostic imaging tests done. The reality is that our universal healthcare system is sustainable and there is no reason to pursue drastic measures that make accessing healthcare more expensive.

As the campaign continues it’s clear that health is becoming a very serious issue for Australian voters. Working in health care you know how much harder it has become to deliver the quality healthcare we know can be delivered because of continuous cuts to health. And you know what it’s like to feel the pressure as workloads explode with greater expectations that you’ll do more unpaid work.

And we can help make an impact and ensure this election is about healthcare by sharing our stories with our friends and family.

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