HEALTH ISSUE: Labor's Medicare bus made its way through Richmond on Monday. Pictured here outside sitting MP Justine Elliot's office.
HEALTH ISSUE: Labor's Medicare bus made its way through Richmond on Monday. Pictured here outside sitting MP Justine Elliot's office. Contributed

Medicare bus ploughs on as campaign nears end

HEALTH is topping the agenda for Richmond MP Justine Elliot this week, as she welcomed Labor’s Medicare bus to the electorate.

The marketing bus was expected to drive through the electorate for much of Monday, before making its way south.

Mrs Elliot, who has held the seat since 2004, said Medicare was the single most important issue of this campaign.

“This election is a referendum on Medicare and Labor is absolutely committed to protecting it,” Mrs Elliot said.

“Locals are always telling me how worried they are about Malcolm Turnbull and the Nationals’ cruel cuts to Medicare and their plans to privatise it. It is really going to hurt every family every day. They will be forcing doctors to push up their fees and reduce bulk billing, it will increase the cost of blood tests and x-rays and scans. These are all increases for locals that will hurt them really hard.”

Mrs Elliot said the issue had resonated particularly strongly in Richmond, with its above-average number of seniors and families.

“With older people it is an important issue but also with younger people with children it is a huge issue,” she said.

“Many just think they won’t be able to afford to go to the doctor when the prices go up.”

Mrs Elliot said any increase in Medicare would have a severe flow-on effect on the Tweed Hospital, as sick people failed to visit their GPs, compounding the complexities of their treatment.

But Nationals candidate Matthew Fraser dismissed Labor’s Medicare bus as a “scare campaign”.

“This whole scare campaign has been a total fraud,” Mr Fraser said.

“(Labor leader) Bill Shorten essentially admitted that on the ABC’s 7.30 Report last week.

“They are grasping at an issue that affects everyone... the whole point of it is to win votes because they’ve got nothing else, they are not putting anything forward.”

Meanwhile, Greens candidate Dawn Walker was joined by NSW Greens Health spokesman Jeremy Buckingham on Monday, as the party launched its policy to defend Medicare.

Touring the GP Super Clinic at South Tweed, Ms Walker said the Greens would inject a further $4.3 billion over four years to manage the rise in chronic disease in the country.

“Chronic disease affects almost half of all Australians and is a significant issue, especially for older residents on the North Coast,” she said.

“Older voters in Richmond have a clear choice this election - vote for the Greens is a vote for health care funding targeted at their specific needs that goes way beyond the commitments of the Labor and National parties.”

Mr Buckingham said health was a central part of the Greens’ Federal Election campaign, with their policies fully costed and based upon expert advice from the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

“The Greens will work to ensure our health system better meets the needs of the millions of Australians living with chronic disease by investing $4.3 billion to ensure patients have access to vital allied health professionals and to incentivise doctors who provide high quality chronic disease care,” Mr Buckingham said.

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