The decision to proceed with the privatisation of Medibank Private is another example of the Abbott Government placing ideology before sense when it comes to Australia’s health system.

Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King said Health Minister Peter Dutton has consistently failed to demonstrate how the sale of Medibank will increase competition or not add to the pressure on private health insurance premiums.

“Having approved the largest increase to private health insurance premiums in almost a decade Minister Dutton has not given one reason as to how the sale of Medibank will benefit consumers,” Ms King said.

“The Medibank Private sale has, however, already proved a windfall for spin doctors and consultants with the Abbott Government awarding a $2000 a day contract to ‘sell’ the sale of Medibank in January.

“Evidence obtained by Labor at Senate Estimates in July revealed the Abbott Government had already spent more than $2 million on spinning the sale of Medibank Private - $1.5 million for advertising and $699,000 for focus groups.

“The Abbott Government is unable to demonstrate how the privatisation of Medibank Private benefits either the health system or health insurance policyholders.

“But at a time when it is slashing more than $50 billion out of public hospitals, and hitting patients with a $7 GP Tax and medicine price hike, it can still find $2 million for advertising and focus groups.”

Shadow Finance Minister Tony Burke said Finance Minister Mathias Cormann still has lots of explaining to do.

“Senator Cormann needs to come clean and explain exactly what the impact of the privatisation of Medibank Private will be on the Budget bottom line,” Mr Burke said.

“Senator Cormann needs to explain why he believes it is justified to add to the deficit by giving up future dividends from Medibank Private.”

Tony Burke