Just three days into the new year I was asked to MC a rally against the latest elitist and cruel proposal from the Abbott government, a plan to end free healthcare in Australia by charging an upfront fee on all visits to a GP and possibly the hospital emergency room.
While the fee itself seems small, being suggested to start at $6 per visit, the number hides the insidious intent behind its introduction. Most of the fee will simply be swallowed up in administrative costs once medical centres are required to process this new form of payment but the real cost savings will come from the poorest people in our society being dissuaded from visiting the doctor.
This is an incredibly short-sighted plan as while there may be small short term savings as a result of less people seeing the doctor for minor complaints these savings will quickly be lost as some of these minor complaints that weren’t seen to transform into serious illnesses – illnesses that in many cases could have been prevented by an early visit to the GP.
I was very grateful to be asked to MC the weekend rally, which was organised by a coalition of students and the Young Greens and where I shared the stage with Greens health spokesperson Senator Richard Di Natalie, himself a medical doctor before entering parliament. Despite being held at a time when many people are still on their summer holidays the rally was very well attended, showing how unhappy the community are with Abbott’s “no surprises” government dropping this surprise announcement just before Christmas when they hoped they would escape media scrutiny.
The full text of the speech I gave at the rally can be found here.