Medi­care sys­tem un­der threat, says op­po­si­tion

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

Op­po­si­tion leader Bill Shorten has used his cen­tre-left Labour Party’s of­fi­cial cam­paign launch to cast July 2 gen­eral elec­tions as a ref­er­en­dum on the fu­ture of Aus­tralia’s uni­ver­sal health care sys­tem.

A Labour gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced gov­ern­ment-funded Medi­care in 1983 to pro­vide free or sub­sidised health care for all Aus­tralian cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents. Labour ar­gues the con­ser­va­tive coali­tion gov­ern­ment plans to pri­va­tise Medi­care - a claim Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull de­nies.

“If you want to know why this elec­tion will make a dif­fer­ence to you, your fam­ily, your street, your work­place, to Aus­tralia’s fu­ture, I can give you the an­swer of why pol­i­tics mat­ters in one word: Medi­care,” Shorten told a Syd­ney au­di­to­rium yes­ter­day in front of the slo­gan: “We’ll put peo­ple first.”

The gov­ern­ment has been quick to as­sure the pub­lic that the pop­u­lar heath care sys­tem is not un­der threat.

Turn­bull, who will launch his con­ser­va­tive Lib­eral Party’s cam­paign next week­end, an­nounced on Satur­day that his gov­ern­ment had scrapped plans to out­source the Medi­care pay­ments sys­tem to pri­vate en­ter­prise.

“Medi­care will never ever be pri­va­tised,” Turn­bull told re­porters.

“What Bill Shorten is do­ing is ped­dling an ex­tra­or­di­nary lie so au­da­cious... it de­fies be­lief.”

Six weeks af­ter the elec­tion was called, Shorten launched his cam­paign in western Syd­ney where Labour hopes to win sev­eral seats from the gov­ern­ment.

An opin­ion poll pub­lished by Fair­fax Me­dia on Satur­day showed Labour ahead of the gov­ern­ment with sup­port of 51 per cent of re­spon­dents com­pared to 49 per cent for the con­ser­va­tive coali­tion. But this lead is within the poll’s 2.6 per­cent­age point mar­gin of er­ror. The poll was based on a sur­vey of 1,437 vot­ers from June 14-16.

Many an­a­lysts don’t be­lieve Labour’s sup­port will de­liver the 21 seats it needs to form a ma­jor­ity in the 150seat House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, where par­ties form gov­ern­ments.

All but one of Labour’s sur­viv­ing prime min­is­ters at­tended the launch: Bob Hawke, Paul Keat­ing and Ju­lia Gil­lard. Kevin Rudd, who was ousted by Gil­lard in a party show­down in 2010 then re­placed her in a sim­i­lar coup in 2013, was in Rus­sia on busi­ness.

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