MONDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2017
SUBJECT/S: Liberal divisions, energy, Turnbull’s private health insurance fail.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE: Well Malcolm Turnbull must be relieved that Parliament is back this week, because frankly it’s the only way he can keep an eye on Tony Abbott. This parliamentary break we’ve seen the worst of their divisions and their policy paralysis and of course this week is another test for Malcolm Turnbull. Will he be able to stare Tony Abbott down and retain a clean energy target as part of their policy mix, or will he once again fold to the right wing of his party?
We know that the Turnbull Government is failing to address issues of cost-of-living for every Australian, and we saw only last week that their private health insurance policy collapsed after just 24 hours. With the Minister failing to guarantee that private health insurance premiums would fall, failing to be able to say what his policy was going to do for affordability of private health insurance for everyday Australians, and also seeing private health insurers question the savings that were in the package, as well as finding out that over 50,000 young Australians would have to enter the scheme for older Australians not to start paying more. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: How would Labor lower those premiums, what would your plan be in office?
KING: Well certainly what we’ve said, again, which was the Government’s promise before the election, is that we think there is a major issue in relation to junk policies and the value people are getting for those policies. Qe have clearly said that we will not put the 30% rebate on those policies, and that needs to go, and the Government has unfortunately failed to do that. We also, of course would not have privatised Medibank Private, the Government told us that that would make private health insurance premiums go down, and of course we haven’t seen any evidence of that.
JOURNALIST: Just on energy, do you think that public opinion has turned against renewables? There’s a Newspoll in The Australian that suggests most people would be unwilling to pay more to subsidise renewables?
KING: I think that what we are seeing is that most people in fact are aware that the cost of renewables is actually going down, and I see in my own community every day people putting solar panels on their roofs, putting battery storage into their houses, trying to actually see how they can mitigate – particularly as they head into retirement – against increasing energy prices. So I think what we are seeing is that people are wanting to have renewables, they are wanting to make sure they can keep their energy costs down and do what they can, what we’re not seeing is a plan from the Government to actually make sure that we have certainty in the industry and that we actually have a future for renewables in this country.
JOURNALIST: Just quickly, what do you make of reports that Michael Danby attended a counter-terrorism conference in Israel while on sick leave?
KING: Look I saw those in the Australian, really that’s a matter for Michael Danby to address and to explain himself in that matter.