ACTU kicks-off national campaign to protect Medicare

The ACTU is launching a major campaign against the sell-off and cuts to Medicare, with a targeted broadcast and online advertising blitz, followed by a door knock in 22 marginal seats and community protests around the country.

New polling released today shows the majority of Queenslanders and Victorians do not support reducing access to Medicare.

A ReachTEL poll commissioned by the ACTU shows 69.9% of Queenslanders and 69.7% of Victorians oppose reductions in bulk-billing for services like pap smears, blood tests and x-rays.

“These are important, sometimes life saving medical tests, that we all need, often regularly, during our life time and any attempt to make it harder for Australian people to access them is not only irresponsible, its also potentially dangerous, “ said ACTU President, Ged Kearney.

“We are fighting the Americanisation of our health system and will be holding community protests around the nation. We hear every day from members of the community just how angry they are at any attempt by government to take us down the US-style path of health care.

“Selling-off the Medicare claims and payments system is the thin edge of the wedge, opening the door to privitisation of our public health system across the board.

“Australians do not want an American-style health system. The Turnbull Government is out-of-step with Australian people if it moves to privatise the Medicare payment system.

“Vital services like Medicare must operate for the benefit of the people who need them, not to make a profit for private companies.

“We are taking this campaign to the streets. Selling-off the Medicare payments system would compromise standards, threaten jobs and see Australians' medical and health records handed over to a corporate operator. There are real privacy concerns in handing over individual health records to private companies.

“I was a nurse for many years and I saw how important Medicare is and how people rely on their public health system. Working people don’t expect five star hospital rooms or unnecessary treatments - they just want access to decent health services in their time of need.

“This is a priority campaign for the ACTU because it affects all Australians. Having to pay high prices for health care will have a major impact on household budgets and a detrimental effect on health.

“When corporations are incentivised to profit from tax-payer funded services they cut corners, and quality of service is compromised. This has been shown to be the case time and time again in other sectors of public service provision.

“In the same way that cutting penalty rates won’t create genuine productivity increases, the social cost of dismantling Medicare drowns out any ideological argument about the so called efficiencies of privatization.

“Just by entertaining this idea, Mr Turnbull has shown he is prepared to favour big corporations over the health of hard-working Australians,” said Ms Kearney.

Media contact: Jessica Kendall 0414 679 857