Brisbane Doorstop Interview

Share This

Interviews

Wednesday, 9th June 2021

Brisbane Doorstop Interview

with Anika Wells MP

SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s proposed changes to Medicare; importance of healthcare; Scott Morrison leaving Queenslanders behind; WTO; trade; Australia’s relationship with China; visit to Townsville; Biloela family; State of Origin.

ANIKA WELLS, MEMBER FOR LILLEY: Good afternoon, everybody. I am Anika Wells, the Federal Member for Lilley. And welcome to the magnificent kingdom of Lilley here in Brisbane’s north side. It takes a lot for Queenslanders to let in a New South Welshman across the drawbridge at the Tweed River on a day like today. But one very good reason to do it is for Queenslanders and New South Welshman to stand together, fighting to protect Medicare as one of the greatest healthcare systems in the world. Healthcare costs are spiralling for north side families. In 2013, when the Liberals first came to power in Canberra, it cost $27.65 to go to the doctor here on the north side. Today, it costs $39.35. That is a 41 per cent increase in the cost of going to the doctor since the Liberals came to power. That's enormous. And healthcare costs really bite north side households. Just yesterday, I had a constituent write to me to say that she went to an eye specialist last week, she had to pay $530 for the appointment, she only got $97 back on the Medicare refund. You can't do without your eyes, so you have to find a way to make it work. But healthcare costs need to stay affordable. And that's why we're so alarmed by what has come out in recent days about the nearly thousand changes that Scott Morrison and his Government are making to the benefits schedule of Medicare. And I think in talking to surgeons, talking to nurses, our wonderful nurses who are here with us today, and some of the other health practitioners that are here at the Prince Charles, what they're most concerned about is this has been rolled out in just over three weeks and they can't tell you what items are being abolished, what items are being changed and what items are being consolidated. And do you know what that means for north siders? It means that people who are about to have much-needed surgery, general surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, like here at the Prince Charles, they don't know whether that surgery is about to be cancelled or is about to cost them thousands of dollars out of pocket more than what they were planning. And it's just not good enough. So, Queenslander, New South Welshman, babies, we stand together today to fight to protect Medicare from the LNP.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well, thanks very much, Anika. And I wish I didn't have to be here talking about healthcare for Queenslanders, but indeed, for the entire country. The fact is that Queensland has had to fight Scott Morrison last year to keep their borders secure, to make sure that Queenslanders were kept safe. In recent times, Queenslanders have been excluded from any Commonwealth support for national quarantine facilities, with the rejection by this Government without proper assessment of the Toowoomba proposal, which to anybody who has a look at it, it makes absolute sense. We know, as Anika has said, that there's been substantial increases in out-of-pocket costs for Queenslanders visiting a GP, particularly here on the north side of Brisbane. And what we know now is that from July 1, there will be the largest changes and the most significant attack on Medicare that has occurred in decades. That attack is about increasing costs, with 900 changes to the Medicare rebate schedule without proper consultation, without public information out there. What that means is that those people who will be needing a hip replacement or surgery on their hand or a range of other surgical procedures will face increased costs. Now we know that a range of procedures were put off during 2020 due to the nature of the pandemic. So for many people, not only will they have had their health outcomes and surgeries delayed, they'll then be facing a great big whopping bill as a result of this attack on Medicare, the heart of our health services, by the Morrison Government. The truth is that when this Coalition came to Government, the first thing they did in their first Budget was try to introduce a great big new tax on visits to the doctor through their Medicare co-payment. The truth is that it is in their DNA to not really support Medicare. We know they went to election after election in the 1980s, after Bob Hawke introduced Medicare, to try to abolish it. And we know, of course, that the great Gough Whitlam introduced Medibank, and the first chance they had, the Coalition got rid of it under Malcolm Fraser. So what we see here is an undermining of a system that they don't believe in. Just like last week, we saw undermining of superannuation. Just like we see a low wage policy as a conscious decision of this Government. Labor will fight to defend Medicare. It is a part of who we are. It's a part of a great Labor legacy. And we won't stand by and allow the Coalition to sneakily make these cuts. Because these cuts will impact people's health and they will impact people's income who need that healthcare. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: The President of the AMA, Omar Khorshid, is speaking at the Press Club right now. He was asked if his concerns have been addressed and what he makes of Labor's warning for the Government assault on Medicare and if we are likely to see another Mediscare campaign. What do you have to say to that? Is that what you will take to the next election?

ALBANESE: I'll tell you what's scary. What's scary is the Coalition's attitude towards healthcare. What's scary is the Coalition's attitude towards disability care and the NDIS. What's scary is the Government's attacks on the most vulnerable people in our society that we've seen through Robodebt. This is a Government that is strong against the weak but weak against the strong. It's a Government that is prepared to sit back and watch while tens of millions of dollars went to companies that were increasing their profits so that could then be channelled into increased dividends through their JobKeeper program. But this is a Government that won't rule out further cuts after the next election. This Government has a plan to get to the next election and nothing beyond it. They are keeping that agenda secret. And these changes that have been proposed for July 1, just in a few weeks’ time, that haven't been discussed publicly, Greg Hunt hasn't been standing up in Question Time, and we've just had two weeks of Parliament, and taking questions from his own side explaining what these changes mean for people. And the reason why he hasn't done that is that these changes are negative for people. They will have a detrimental effect on people's health. And they will have a detrimental effect on people's income.

JOURNALIST: Just a question about the Prime Minister's comments on the WTO. He said that international bodies like the WTO need to be renovated. Does Labor agree that organisations need to be overhauled in order to be effective? 

ALBANESE: Well, we think very strongly that international institutions are worthy of support and that we should make sure that there's constant reform to make sure that they're able to effectively do their job. It's Scott Morrison who just a short while ago channelled Donald Trump in speaking about negative globalism. We don't think that was appropriate. And I'm pleased that the Prime Minister is now talking about the WTO, which is an important institution. It's important to ensure that there's a rule of law when it comes to trade agreements between countries. And that is very much in Australia's interests.

JOURNALIST: Is it the appropriate time to be calling for that, given China's trade sanctions?

ALBANESE: It is absolutely an appropriate time for Australia to be talking about the rule of law and defending our national interest, as well as ensuring that all trade agreements are complied with. One of the concerns we have about China's actions is that they are contrary to the agreements that have been signed and they are contrary to an orderly process of global engagement, which is very much in Australia's national interest.

JOURNALIST: On China, Labor has criticised the Government for its rhetorical approach towards China, but are there any substantive decisions that the ALP actually disagrees with? Or is there still a bipartisan consensus on China at this point in time?

ALBANESE: Well, of course, there's a bipartisan consensus about the need to stand up for Australia's national interests, about the need for us to always speak up for human rights, about the need for there to be a rule of law and implementation through international institutions. Labor will always stand up for Australia's national interest. And there's a bipartisan agreement, as well, about issues such as South China Sea and about making sure that Australia's sovereign interests are protected.

JOURNALIST: You will be in Townsville today. Will you be able to announce the candidate for Herbert?

ALBANESE: I'll be with our Senate candidate tomorrow. We'll be making some announcements there as well as with Senator Nita Green. I'll be having meetings in Townsville today and again tomorrow. I look forward to engaging with Annastacia Palaszczuk tomorrow morning. We'll be making announcements about all of our candidates at an appropriate time. But I'm very confident that we will have an outstanding candidate for Herbert. I'm not ready to announce that right here, right now. But I'm confident that is a seat that we can return to the Labor fold. Because the people of North Queensland need a strong voice in a Labor Government.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

ALBANESE: We will have a strong candidate. We have no difficulty. It will be announced at an appropriate time on our timetable. And I do note that the Coalition, not only are they having problems announcing candidates in seats that Labor holds, they have challenges against their sitting members right around the country, particularly in my state of New South Wales.

JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister's not shifting on climate targets, but he's acknowledged that the world is shifting towards a zero emissions economy. Do you think that international pressure is building on Australia's climate policy?

ALBANESE: Well, this is the great contradiction behind this Prime Minister. When he is at the G7, everyone who he is meeting with will have a target of net zero by 2050. The people who he's meeting with and the companies who will be present there will, of course, have net zero by 2050. Every state and territory has a commitment of net zero by 2050. This is a circumstance whereby Scott Morrison is increasingly isolated. And that's because he can't get agreement from his own Party.

JOURNALIST: Just on the Biloela family. Will asylum seeker families on Christmas Island continue to face deportation under Labor? (Inaudible).

ALBANESE: The fact is one of the first things I did in 2019 was visit Biloela. And what I heard from that community is that this family are valued members of that local community. These two girls are not a threat to Australia's national sovereignty. They were born here. And this family should be brought home to Bilo, which is what the local community wants. 

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

ALBANESE: Sorry, I'm not aware of the detail. And when it comes to any issues relating to national security, I receive briefings first. So I'm not aware of that detail. Thank you.

Can I say this with my friend Anika here? A public challenge here. If the Maroons win tonight, I will wear a Maroon scarf in Parliament next week. But you've got to do the same with a Blues scarf. Just for a minute. Done.

ENDS

Sign up to get the latest news from Anthony

See the latest News
About Anthony
Meet AnthonyAnthony's Story

Electorate Office

334a Marrickville Road
MARRICKVILLE NSW 2204

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

Parliament House Office

PO Box 6022
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6277 4022
Fax: (02) 6277 8562

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

DisclaimerPrivacyTerms

Electorate Office

334a Marrickville Road
MARRICKVILLE NSW 2204

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

Parliament House Office

PO Box 6022
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6277 4022
Fax: (02) 6277 8562

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices stand and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge the sorrow of the Stolen Generations and the impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We also recognise the resilience, strength and pride of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Authorised by Anthony Albanese. 334a Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204.