I too rise to condemn the GP tax and to speak for the people of Lalor, who will be hard-hit if this tax becomes a reality. Lalor has a bulk-billing rate of 93.5 per cent.
Families across my electorate access bulk-billing services more than 1.5 million times each year—greater than anywhere else across Australia. This GP tax will cost Lalor families over $11½ million annually. If you turn to the letters page in the Age yesterday, Deputy Speaker, you will see a letter from a local Werribee doctor, Dr Joe Garra. He writes:
As a western suburbs GP with many elderly patients the introduction of the co-payment worries me. I cannot afford to waive it; the loss of $7 equates to a 30 per cent drop in income. My worry is that elderly patients with chronic illness, often on necessary medication, will pick and choose what to miss out on to save $7. It may be seeing me or having an important blood test or X-ray. If this leads to a hospital admission, then the projected savings convert to a huge expense for taxpayers.
The GP tax is the most insidious part of this budget, and the thing that goes to the core of this government's callous disregard for the welfare of everyday Australians. If this government cannot listen to those MPs on this side of the House, perhaps they will listen to respected doctors like Joe Garra.