Government moves on proposed new Medicare levy

SBS World News Radio: The Federal Government has introduced legislation which would increase the Medicare levy to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme Labor introduced five years ago.

Government moves on proposed new Medicare levy

Government moves on proposed new Medicare levy

But negotiations over the package are stuck on one main point: what income level the higher rate would start at.

Under the Federal Government's new legislation, people taking home at least $28,000 a year would face a half a per cent rise in the Medicare levy, starting in mid-2019.

The billions of extra dollars would go towards fully funding the National Disability Insurance Scheme, introduced in 2012 by former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard.

Treasurer Scott Morrison says the plan was inspired by his brother-in-law's battle with multiple sclerosis.

Accusing the Opposition of playing politics with Australians with disabilities, he has called on Labor to back the move.

"Australians who live with a disability, and the families and carers and friends who care for those with disabilities, deserve the certainty from this parliament that the National Disability Insurance Scheme is fully funded. This isn't about Bill Shorten's politics of envy. It's not about redistribution of incomes. It's not about any of those issues. It's about Australians who live with a disability and an important national scheme, which started off with bipartisan support not just on what it was going to do but how it was being, at that point, funded through the Medicare Levy. And I would like to see that bipartisanship for disabled Australians be re-established in this parliament."

Under the plan first announced in May's federal budget, the Government wants to hike the existing rate to 2.5 per cent.

A person earning $80,000 would pay an extra $400 per year.

While the Coalition is advocating it to kick in at $28,000, Labor wants only those earning in excess of $87,000 to be affected.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has criticised the Government's proposal.

"I think it is horribly wrong of the Government to hold the NDIS hostage and say that the only way the NDIS can be funded is through increasing taxes on people who earn $50,000 and $60,000 a year. There are many other ways to fund the functioning of Government."

Without Labor's support, the Government faces a challenge in getting the legislation through the Senate.

Key crossbench senators are also holding up negotiations, although the Coalition remains optimistic it can gain their backing.

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie has told the ABC she hopes to find a point all sides agree on.

"I want the NDIS, and I have no problem with the .5 per cent. It's at where do we start to take that .5 per cent off. His starts at $28,000. I think it starts there at $75, and it's a sloping scale, which is great, but I still think that starting at that low rate at $28,000, I think it needs to be pushed up higher. I think Bill Shorten's calling for $87,000, it starts there. I think that's too high. I think we can find some middle ground here."

The Greens have reacted with surprise at Scott Morrison's confidence in getting the legislation passed.

Greens MP Adam Bandt has told Sky News any momentum is news to him.

"I think there's a bit of optimism on the Treasurer's part, with his statements, and I think it's probably been put out to give a sense that the Government's moving forward. We're certainly not aware of any discussions that are going on. It's not something that we've had a discussion about inside our Greens party room. So I think there's a bit of over-egging* of it."




4 min read
Published 17 August 2017 at 8:00pm