Last Thursday Tony Abbott backed down on his ill-thought proposal to reduce the Medicare rebate for short GP consultations by $20.00.  This would have left the GP with two choices; charge the patient $20 more or take a $20 payment cut.

Worse, it would have led to a dramatic fall in bulk billing services and a reduction in those seeking help.  This is not smart policy, it would inevitably leave people unable to access GP services and others waiting too long to visit a Doctor.  This is in fact bad economics because it causes people to drop the ball on preventive health care and would lead to more chronic illness in our community.  That outcome would cost the Budget more, not less.

Unfortunately last week’s back-down was only partial.  The $5 “GP tax” remains in place.  It will have all the same impacts I’ve mentioned.  It’s time the Prime Minister dropped the $5 tax too.  There is no greater a responsibility for government than ensuring people have access to affordable health care.

While in Canberra last week I visited the French Embassy to sign the condolence book for the victims of the recent senseless and tragic events in Paris.  A succession of events around the world - including Sydney - has understandably caused people to ask questions about those who practice the Muslim faith.  I urge people to keep things in perspective.

Evil comes from people from all religions and all faiths but no one race or faith is inherently evil. Stereotyping and treating people from one faith or ethnic background differently than others is not a recipe for peace but rather, a formula for more trouble.

We should have no tolerance for evil and when it occurs it must be responded to harshly and quickly.  But at the same time, we need to work at addressing the issues which too often drive often marginalised people to unspeakable and inexcusable acts of terror.

There is no single answer to this problem, our responses must be as broad and varied as are the causes.

I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

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To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.


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