Joe Hockey 'looking for ideas' on budget
Cross-bench senator David Leyonhjelm has met with the Treasurer Joe Hockey, suggesting the introduction of a regulated reverse-mortgage market could reduce numbers on the aged pension.PT2M32S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3d3tl 620 349 August 4, 2014
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One of the key crossbench senators has told Treasurer Joe Hockey to "soften the blow" of the proposed $7 GP fee by reducing the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme co-payment by the same amount.
Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm met Mr Hockey in Sydney on Monday where he urged the Treasurer to also dump the planned $20 billion Medical Research Fund, which would be partly funded by the GP fee.
Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm want Treasurer Joe Hockey to offset the proposed GP fee. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme co-payment increased from $36.10 to $36.90 in January this year. Senator Leyonhjelm said reducing the PBS co-payment to $30 would send a price signal to patients but at the same time improve the GP fee's saleability to the electorate.
"Nobody is going to accept a medical copayment without some sort of offset, without softening the blow, it just appears mean," Senator Leyonhjelm told Fairfax Media on Monday.
Senator Leyonhjelm said the GP fee funding would be better spent going into general revenue and reducing the deficit instead of a medical research fund, which he said could crowd out private investment in the sector.
The crossbench senator's comments come as a trio of Coalition MPs publicly plead for the $7 fee to be scrapped for pensioners.
Senator Leyonhjelm said he was relaxed about the GP fee applying to pensioners because it was capped at 10 visits per year.
He is also expected to indicate his willingness to horsetrade on his opposition to some of the mining tax repeal measures in exchange for an overall lowering of the tax burden. He declined to specify any particular taxes that he would like to see lowered as a result of his negotiations.
And he's warned the government the numbers were "against them no matter when" they introduced the paid parental leave bills. Fairfax Media revealed this week that the introduction of the bills had been delayed until next year ahead of the scheme's planned start date in July.
Senator Leyonhjelm opposes taxpayer-funded paid parental leave and wants childcare affordability improved instead.
He said "the principle of women with children being subsidised by women without children is just plain wrong".
Mr Hockey said on Monday before his meeting with Senator Leyonhjelm that there was a lot of work to do in securing the numbers to to pass the budget measures in the Senate.
"I will meet with anyone who is sensible and the independent senators so far are proving to be sensible unlike some of the others in the upper house," the Treasurer told the Nine Network.
Senator Leyonhjelm said it was likely Mr Hockey's latter reference concerned Labor and the Greens in the Senate, rather than any of his crossbench colleagues.