THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
INTERVIEW, ABC NEWS
SUNDAY, 19 JUNE 2016
SUBJECTS: ALP NATIONAL POLICY LAUNCH, LABOR'S POSITIVE POLICIES
CHRIS UHLMANN, JOURNALIST: A short time ago, I was joined by of Tanya Plibersek, the deputy leader of the Labor Party. Tanya Plibersek, welcome.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE FEDERAL LABOR PARTY: Great to be with you.
UHLMANN: When did this election become a referendum on Medicare?
PLIBERSEK: Well, Labor's always been the party of Medicare, of protecting and building Medicare. Since Tony Abbott started cutting the guts out of our hospitals, we've wanted to protect and build Medicare again. Today, Bill Shorten talked about being able to bulk-bill, making sure medicines are affordable, and today he announced that we will reverse Malcolm Turnbull's cuts to pathology and diagnostic imaging. But it wasn't just about Medicare today - it was about jobs, making sure that small businesses can afford to put on more people. It was about investing in transport. It's also about suicide prevention and mental health services for young people.
UHLMANN: Sure, but you're saying the Government is planning to privatise Medicare. What evidence do you have for that?
PLIBERSEK: Well, you don't set up a committee to investigate privatisation options for Medicare unless you want to privatise parts of Medicare. Don't forget, Chris, before the last election, Tony Abbott said "no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no change to pensions, no new taxes, and no cuts to the ABC and SBS". He broke every one of those promises. Why do we think the Liberals have changed?
UHLMANN: The Prime Minister has said today there would be no change to Medicare, and they were only ever looking at privatising the payment system, not the system itself. Isn't this overreach?
PLIBERSEK: Absolutely not. They've cut the guts from Medicare. They've tried to introduce a GP co-payment. They've done that by stealth, instead, by freezing what doctors are paid so that doctors can't bulk-bill anymore. They've cut pathology and diagnostic imaging services, so patients have to pay more. At every turn, this Government have attacked and undermined Medicare. Only Labor is the party of Medicare. So if people to want to protect Medicare, they have to vote Labor.
UHLMANN: Savings can be made in pathology and diagnostic imaging, and need to be made, don't they?
PLIBERSEK: When I was Health Minister, I found savings too - but I found them in ways that didn't hurt patients and didn't hit patients' hip pockets. Yes, of course you have to watch every dollar, but we've outlined more than $100 billion of improvements to the Budget bottom line, so it is possible to do budget repair that's fair.
UHLMANN: Finally and briefly, people in seats like Lindsay last time turned against the Labor Party quite sharply. Why should they turn back after just three years?
PLIBERSEK: Well, if people in Lindsay want to protect Medicare, they should vote Labor. If they want every child in every school to get a great education, they should vote Labor. If they want an upgrade to Nepean Hospital and a north-west-to-south-west railway line, they should vote Labor. If they want decent-quality jobs, they should vote Labor.
UHLMANN: Tanya Plibersek, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you.
PLIBERSEK: Thank you.