Opposition leader Bill Shorten in Kingscliff on Sunday, May 15, 2016.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten in Kingscliff on Sunday, May 15, 2016. Liana Turner

Shorten warns voters bulkbilling cuts are only delayed

OPPOSITION leader Bill Shorten has warned the issue around bulkbilling and pathology is not over, merely delayed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for political motives.

Speaking at Kingscliff in northern NSW this morning, Mr Shorten blasted Mr Turnbull over his claims during Friday's leaders debate that tensions with Pathology Australia had been resolved.

Mr Shorten said in reality, the issue had merely been delayed by three months.

"The pathology issue is not over," he said.

"What they have actually done is resolve another matter of tension with pathology labs about the cost of rent, but they have not dealt with the bulk billing issue, all they have done is delayed it by three months.

"Mr Turnbull left an impression on the minds of Australians who watched the debate on Friday night that there was nothing further to see here.

"What Mr Turnbull actually wants to do is he wants the cuts to Medicare and he wants the votes of Australians.

"I don't believe he can have either of them.

"As he continues his cuts to GPs and pathology… Mr Turnbull will find out that not only will he not get the cuts after July 2 but he won't get the votes because Labor will stop and fight these retrograde measures with every breath of our body."

Mr Shorten further warned the Coalition's proposed changes to Medicare bulkbilling would undermine the health system by forcing doctors to charge more.

"The Royal College of Australian Practitioners representing Australian doctors make a strong point," he said.

"What the AMA and the doctors are saying generally is that Mr Turnbull's cuts to healthcare are going to force GPs at the front line of our medical system, small businesses indeed, are going to have to charge extra fees for patients coming to see the doctor.

"This is a disaster for patient care. You cannot trust Mr Turnbull's Coalition on Medicare. They want to freeze the rebate… well into the future and the doctors are saying this is going to force them to introduce a tax by the back door.

"We are very, very critical of that vision that the government is trying to do. But that is not the only thing that the government is trying to undermine healthcare in Australia.

"What this government is doing is cutting the bulkbilling incentives of pathology laboratories and diagnostic imaging businesses - the x-rays, cat scans, pet scans MRIs.

"Mr Turnbull on Friday night deliberately set out to create a false impression in the mind of Australian voters that this pathology issue is over. He should be ashamed of what he said. This issue is only delayed, it is not fixed and the cuts to bulkbilling have been backed by a ruthless Coalition Government who have no love or support for Medicare, certainly not by their policies.

"The truth of the matter is just as we think that education is a key issue in this election, defending Medicare against the cuts of Mr Turnbull's conservative Coalition is another headline issue in this election."

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