Media Release: Urgent Health Challenges Ignored by Labor's Budget

The Albanese Labor Government’s 2024-25 Budget failed to address the urgent health challenges facing Australians.

Primary Healthcare

Once again, the Government put forward a shallow package of measures to ‘strengthen Medicare’, but what they are hiding from Australians is that GP bulk billing has plummeted by 11% under their watch.

Over this financial year alone, the rate has dropped 4% despite the Government spending millions of taxpayer dollars on tripling the bulk billing incentive and on their unproven Urgent Care Clinics.

Shadow Minister for Health, Senator Anne Ruston highlighted how we have seen more than 3 million less GP attendances across Australia, as it becomes harder and more expensive to see a doctor.

“Primary care has literally never been more expensive, with Medicare currently covering the lowest percentage of GP fees on record.

“By ignoring the urgent need to address severe GP workforce shortages, the Budget does not provide the reform need to ensure Australians have timely and affordable access to a doctor.

“This will only put further pressure on Australia’s struggling hospital system, as this primary care crisis pushes patients towards emergency departments,” Senator Ruston said.

That is why the Coalition has put forward our plan to incentivise more junior doctors to pursue a career as a General Practitioner and safeguard Australians’ healthcare access.

The package will invest $400 million to provide junior doctors with direct financial incentive payments, assistance with leave entitlements and support for pre-vocational training.

This will ensure junior doctors who pursue training as a GP in the community are not financially worse off compared to doctors who remain in the hospital environment.

A strong pipeline of home-trained GP graduates is critical to deliver essential healthcare to all Australians.

Mental Health

Australia is facing a mental health crisis. The Budget handed down on Tuesday night has completely ignored the urgency of this fact.

The Albanese Government has failed to ensure that Australians can access the specialised mental health treatment they need, particularly for those suffering from more complex or chronic mental health conditions.

500 days before the Budget, the Government cut the Better Access initiative, ripping away access to Medicare-subsidised psychology services from more than 240,000 vulnerable Australians.

“The Budget did not even try to make up for this cruel cut to mental health support for Australians with chronic mental health conditions,” Senator Ruston said.

“Hidden in the Budget papers was also a decision to abolish the National Mental Health Commission, including the National Suicide Prevention Office.

“This is concrete proof that this government does not consider mental health a national priority.”

As the Opposition Leader Peter Dutton reiterated in the Budget-in-Reply, an elected Coalition Government will restore the number of Medicare-subsidised psychological sessions from 10 to 20 on a permanent basis.

Australians facing complex mental health challenges deserve the full level of support that has been recommended for them.

Women’s Health

The Coalition has welcomed the Government’s investment in longer consultations for women suffering from endometriosis and pelvic pain, which they have acknowledged builds on the significant work of the Coalition in this critical area.

But more needs to be done to support women’s health.

As the Opposition Leader has committed, we will continue to support measures and develop policy in this area, particularly in primary care and for menopause and peri-menopause.


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