TRANSCRIPT: Doorstop, Canberra - 14/11/23

14 November 2023


Subjects: Cost of Living, Bulk-Billing, Urgent Care Clinics, Housing Affordability.

THE HON GED KEARNEY MP, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE: Good morning, everyone. I'm Ged Kearney. I'm the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care.
We are in a really difficult time for Australians. We know that all Australians are doing it really tough when it comes to the cost of living, right now. It seems that everybody's grocery bills are going up. People are under mortgage stress and rental pressure.
It is the number one objective of this Government to give people relief around the cost of living. Whether you are young, just starting out, or you are in the latter years of life.

I'm very pleased to say that, working in the health portfolio team, we are really working very hard to make sure that every Australian can get the healthcare they need, and that it doesn't put pressure on the household budget, which we know is already under pressure.
From a health portfolio perspective, we were absolutely delighted to make sure that we tripled the bulk-billing incentive. This is the biggest investment in Medicare’s 40-year history. This means that 5 million children and their families and 7 million pensioners should be able to be bulk-billed.
We don't want people to worry about going to the doctor because of the cost of it. We don't want people to be ill or not turn up to work because they can't get antibiotics, because they just can't afford it.
We are working really hard to make healthcare affordable for everybody.
We have invested in making medicines cheaper. There's the 29% cut to the maximum-co-payment under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for the cost of medicines. You can now get two scripts for the price of one script - and it means you have to go to the doctor half the time to get the prescription for your medications.
We have opened Urgent Care Clinics right around the country. This means if you urgently need care, you don't have to wait for hours in a public hospital, you can be bulk-billed at one of our Urgent Care Clinics. This is a great initiative. It not only takes pressure off our public hospitals, but it makes sure that people can get the care they need, when they need it.
We are really doing everything we can. We don't want people to have to make decisions about their grocery bills: “Can I afford to pay grocery bills or can I afford to go to a doctor?” This Government is absolutely committed to making the cost of living easier for people.
We've heard today stories of a rental crisis.  I myself have experienced this. My own daughter is, and her family are looking to rent at the moment. They had to turn up with over 100 people in the queue. Just to rent a house.
We are doing more than any Government has ever done around the housing crisis. Increasing supply. We've invested $2 billion to urgently build social and affordable housing. We have got $10 billion invested in the House Australia Future Fund. This is an incredible investment that will increase supply and take pressure off the housing crisis. We are working with the states around rental controls and making sure that people who do rent have rights and can afford to rent. We've given the biggest increase to people who receive rental assistance from the Government. Massive increase - the biggest increase for a long time in rental assistance.
I think that Australians really do understand that the Albanese Labor Government is doing everything that we can right now to ease the burden from cost of living pressures. I just want people to understand that we we realise you're under pressure and we're doing all we can from health, right through to house affordability.

Media contact

Gabriel Steger | 0448 896 940