Despite calls from his own commission of audit to tackle the spiralling cost of the seniors health care card, Tony Abbott has played down suggestions his government could restrict access for retirees.
The commission of audit has called on the government to tackle the spiralling cost of the seniors card, which allows self-funded retirees to access discounts for medicines and GP visits regardless of super income, News Corp has reported.
Mr Abbott would not comment directly on the yet-to-be released audit’s recommendations.
However, he said the government would stick to a “crystal clear” commitment to index the income threshold for card, which was aimed at boosting eligibility.
“Yes we will repair the budget … but we will do it in ways which are absolutely consistent with the commitments we took to the people before the election,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Adelaide.
“We made a clear commitment on the commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card during the election and we’ll keep the commitment.”
‘Release the report’
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten called on Mr Abbott to release the 900-page interim audit report, saying the prime minister was hiding its recommendations until after the Tasmanian and South Australian state polls, and the WA Senate election.
“It is weak of Tony Abbott to have 900 pages of nasty surprises and not tell people until they’ve voted in Tasmania, South Australia, and significantly the West Australian Senate election,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.
The prime minister said the government was carefully studying the interim report, “to see which recommendations might be suitable for implementation in the upcoming budget”.
“It will be released, but it will be released at the right time, not the wrong time,” Mr Abbott said.
Tackling the debt
In a statement issued to mark six months since the September election, Mr Abbott said the government would in the May budget address Labor’s legacy of $123 billion in deficits and $667 billion in accumulated debt.
“We’re getting the nation’s finances under control,” he said.
Mr Abbott also urged voters to back the Liberals in the Tasmanian and South Australian state election next weekend, to “improve their governments”.
“My hope is that the people of Tasmania and South Australia will elect new governments that are focused on creating the jobs and building the prosperity that these states so desperately need,” the prime minister said.