MOST Australians can afford a small fee to see their doctor, says federal Calare MP John Cobb.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday night’s federal budget release, Mr Cobb said the people of Calare had little to fear from Treasurer Joe Hockey’s expected tax and fee hikes.
But while he supported a proposed $6 co-payment for people to see their general practitioner, Mr Cobb said he did not support a debt levy on high-income earners and would vigorously oppose any changes to the diesel fuel rebate scheme.
Pre-budget leaks suggest Mr Hockey will introduce a special levy on people earning more than $150,000 to help pay off Australia’s deficit.
But Mr Cobb does not believe a temporary levy is the right way to bring down the nation’s debt.
“I’m very much against any tampering with the diesel fuel rebate and I’m not an advocate for the deficit levy, but we’ll see how it goes,” he said.
“I believe introducing a levy to get us out of trouble is a bad example to set for all levels of government - whether it’s federal, state or local.
“A levy doesn’t deal with core problems that got us into trouble in the first place. Good governance and good policy does.”
Mr Cobb said arguing against changes to the diesel fuel rebate might put him at odds with Liberal MPs but, as a National, he felt a duty to fight for the best interests of the rural community.
But Mr Hockey won’t have to fight to convince Mr Cobb of the merits of a co-payment for visits to the doctor.
Mr Cobb said such a fee could help cut down on unnecessary trips to the GP.
“To be honest, I think most of us can afford to pay something to go and see a doctor,” he said.
“I also think country people are generally more resilient than people in the city and it’s well known there are probably a lot of consultations in the city that don’t need to happen.
“There are other places for people to go if they are simply lonely, or whatever, rather than take up the time of a GP and adding that expense to Medicare, which is not what it’s there for.
“I’m not saying that anyone who needs to see a doctor shouldn’t see one or that a visit to the GP should be made unaffordable, but as far as the Budget goes it’s worth making people who don’t need to see a doctor aware of other more suitable organisations.”