GP Tax stays and still hurts community

14 May 2015

Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (13:30):  The government likes to pretend that this budget is somehow different from last year's disaster, but the fact is it is all still there: $100,000 degrees, cuts to families, $80 billion in cuts to schools and hospitals. It is all still, in the Treasurer's words, 'on the table'. Even after backflipping last year, the government's GP tax is hidden in the budget as well. After trying to slug patients with a $7 fee, then $5 fee, then a $20 fee, it is now going to charge $8.43 through the back door.

The government will rip $1.3 billion out of general practice, with big consequences for our health system. This is despite experts agreeing that discouraging GP visits will raise overall health costs. Every year 85 per cent of us visit a GP but only 15 per cent of us are admitted to hospital. The average cost of a GP visit is $47 to the government, while a trip to an emergency department for the same condition costs between $396 and $599.

As I told the patients and doctors who attended the opening of the new Doctors on Fifth clinic at Marsden in my community, our community relies on bulk-billing more than any other electorate in Queensland—93.6 per cent of GP visits, or 1.1 million of them. This government's tax through the back door is not only unfair, not just a broken promise, not just a backflip but a terrible idea with damaging consequences for my community.