Group urges $6 fee for GP visit rather than Medicare hike

A KEY lobby group for older Australians has backed a call for a $6 fee for visits to the GP, as part of its submission to the federal May budget.

Nationals Seniors, which represents about 200,000 Australians older than 50, also pushed the case for older workers to be hired.

As the Abbott Government prepares its first budget, and begins to assess the upcoming recommendations of its Commission of Audit, National Seniors chief Michael O'Neill said the seniors were prepared to "tighten spending".

He said the lobby group had "pared back requests", focused on workplace productivity and found "a handful of savings" for the budget.

Mr O'Neill said health was an area "ripe for efficiencies" and "plagued by duplication", urging a $6 GP fee to be considered instead of any potential rise in the Medicare levy.

He said a "safety-net-backed" fee for doctor visits was something consumers could handle; despite fears the proposal was simply cost-shifting from government coffers to the back pocket of Australians.

The group also called on the government to delay Prime Minister Tony Abbott's key personal policy, the Coalition's paid parental leave scheme.

"After six years of budget deficits, now is not the time to introduce a generous parental leave scheme," Mr O'Neill said.

"To do so, would send an inconsistent message to groups willing to pare back."

The group also called for government to provide "practical re-training" for older workers to move to new jobs as industries including manufacturing face collapse.



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