Labor's budget reply promises bigger tax cuts

Henrietta Strickland
April 7, 2019

In his Budget reply speech, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten made health a central policy feature and unveiled a cancer care package to fund scans, medical treatment, and specialists appointments.

Dr Bartone said it was pleasing that Labor had committed significant investment to an important segment of the health system, and the AMA looks forward to more announcements regarding the broader health system throughout the election campaign.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Labor candidate for Canberra Alicia Payne at Canberra Hospital.

His pitch to voters parliament also pledged a $1 billion investment in TAFE and criticised the Coalition government for cuts to health and education.

However, Mr Shorten says the reforms show Labor is economically responsible, as Australia faces the challenges of a slowing global economy and declining business and consumer confidence.

Labor will eliminate out-of-pocket costs for cancer diagnostic imaging.

This marks the biggest ever expansion of Medicare MRI eligibility and the investment will also cover CT scans, PET scans, mammograms, X-rays and ultrasounds.

Labor will also spend $4 million to upgrade QEII Family Centre in Curtin to provide in-patient support to women experiencing post-natal difficulties, such as breastfeeding problems or having a baby with special needs.

As well, every drug recommended by independent experts will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, cutting out of pocket costs for medications.

"It is a sad reality that every Australian is touched by the scourge of cancer, directly or indirectly, through their own experience or that of a family member, neighbour, colleague, workmate, or loved one", Dr Bartone said.

The coalition promised to create 80,000 apprenticeships to fill the skills shortage, but Mr Shorten will nearly double that with a $1 billion pledge.

"You might not realise that all those vital scans and tests and consultations with specialists aren't fully covered by Medicare".

"The AMA has for many years lobbied successive governments that Medicare patient rebates do not reflect the true cost of providing high quality care, and this has certainly been the case with cancer consults, treatments, scans, and tests". Some men with prostate cancer are paying more than $18,000.

"I'm very disappointed, very disappointed, that the Labor Party and Bill Shorten have once again sought to misrepresent and politically weaponise the issue of disabilities", the prime minister said on Friday.

"We are a smart country, we are a rich country, we are a generous country - and we are better than this", he said.

Mr Shorten is promising to restore penalty rates, get the Fair Work Commission to look at a "living wage" to replace the minimum wage and scrapping the coalition's construction industry watchdog.

Labor will be backed by the union movement which has been running under the banner of Change the Rules - seeking workplace reform to restore a fair go for workers.

"I think financial stress is just an added stress you don't need when you're going through a particular hard time in your life", she said.

"As someone who's been a taxpayer for more than 20 years and to find when I need assistance (that) going through Centrelink doesn't scratch the surface - it's disheartening".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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