After the opposition Labor Party raised worries about the sustainability of Australia’s universal healthcare plan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected on Monday that his government will eliminate it if re-elected next month.
Labor sees its defence of Australia’s beloved universal healthcare plan as a crucial divergence between it and the ruling Liberal National coalition, which claims to be superior on economic management and border protection ahead of the May 21 election.
After Morrison announced on Sunday that if he is re-elected, he will select Anne Ruston as health minister, Labor has seized on Medicare as a critical issue. Ruston described Medicare as unsustainable a few years ago.
“This is a health minister, now designate if they win the election,” Labor opposition leader Anthony Albanese told reporters in Brisbane. “We know he’ll destroy Medicare, and he’s acknowledged the existing model isn’t sustainable.”
Morrison reaffirmed that if his government was re-elected, there would be no cutbacks to Medicare while campaigning in Perth to announce investment in two new naval patrol vessels.
He told reporters, “She (Anne Ruston) declared yesterday there would be no cuts, and I would reaffirm that today.”
Morrison then switched his attention to asylum seeker policy, claiming that the new patrol boats would play a “ongoing and crucial role” in Australia’s border protection capabilities, while also criticising Labor’s previous approach.
“When Labor removed temporary protection visas in 2008, the armada of people traffickers’ boats came to Australia and that was the launching point,” Morrison remarked.
Albanese was forced to clarify Labor’s stance on border protection early in the campaign after making the mistake of suggesting it was the same as the government’s.
Meanwhile, a new survey released on Monday revealed a shift in support for Morrison, putting him ahead of Albanese as the preferred prime minister.