Finance Federal Budget Shorten pledges to save Medicare in budget reply

Shorten pledges to save Medicare in budget reply

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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has vowed to legislate to save Medicare, declaring the election on July 2 a referendum on its future.

He said a Labor government would act to protect Medicare within its first 100 days.

As well, a Labor government would crack down on dodgy private colleges which saddle students with debt and fail to deliver qualifications.

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Delivering Labor’s reply to Tuesday’s budget, he said it was a budget for big business over battlers, punishing those who can’t afford it and rewarding those who don’t need it.

The Opposition Leader said Labor would support the government’s modest measures to limit bracket creep and a tax cut for small businesses with a turnover of less than $2 million a year.

But in the face of continuing deficits, now was not the time to give the richest three per cent of Australians another tax cut.

Mr Shorten said a Labor government would deliver 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and turbocharge infrastructure within a new $10 billion funding facility.

Medicare will become an election battle front, Labor says.

He said the Liberals had always wanted a private model of health care like the US.

The government was spending $5 million on a Health Department taskforce to investigate the fastest way to privatise parts of Medicare and that was just the beginning.

“Make no mistake, July 2 will be a referendum on the future of Medicare,” he said.

“We will not support the privatisation of the Medicare system. Full stop.”

Mr Shorten said Labor would make education, training and skills a national priority.

The pendulum had swung too far to private providers.

“We will restore integrity to the training system by cleaning out the dodgy private colleges who have been ripping Australians off for too long,” he said.

Mr Shorten said in 2014 the 10 largest private training colleges received $900 million in government funding but less than five per cent of their students graduated.

He said tens of thousands were being loaded with massive debt but not the qualification they needed to find a job.

A Labor government would cap vocational education loans at $8000 per student, he said.

Mr Shorten said in 58 days Australians would choose who governed the country for the next three years.

“We might be the underdogs in this election but we have never sought to be a small target,” he said.

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