The Government has finally put the question to the public about whether it should introduce a mining tax to raise money for the health system.
The question is: Would you rather pay more for a system that can cope with more people in hospital or less for a one-off $10 billion levy on the most affluent people?
The answer is: Yes.
The answer is probably not a lot different to that given to people in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, who pay far higher taxes than Australians, and who tend to spend much more on their health care.
The main difference is that most Australians pay less of a tax than most Australians.
And if you think the answer is simple, think again.
The Government is still trying to get people to think about the impact of the tax on them, and the implications for their health.
It will have to make that case to the Government in Parliament on Tuesday.
What is the mining tax?
It’s a 1 per cent levy on people earning more than $1 million a year.
The Government says the levy is designed to raise about $10.3 billion a year for the national health system, which it estimates will save the Government $13.7 billion.
It also aims to pay for about $13 billion of new health spending over the next 10 years.
The government says that the tax will also reduce demand for tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and will also boost investment in the health and social services sector.
The main opposition party says the Government should not have introduced the levy at all.
“This tax is not a one per cent tax, and it is not an emergency expenditure,” Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said.
“This is not some kind of spending that’s going to come from the mining sector.”
But Health Minister Peter Dutton says the $10-billion in health spending the Government estimates will be saved by the levy will come from a number of other health spending, including education, education and aged care.
“The main thing we’re trying to do is to have some investment in social housing and other programs that we know are important to our community, particularly in remote areas,” Mr Dutton said.
“We’re also spending about $5 billion in social services over the course of the next decade.”
That’s going in to the local community.
We’re also investing in the workforce and the skills of those who are here, and we’re also looking at what we can do to give people more control over the health services they get.
“Mr Dutton wants the tax to be introduced before Labor makes a statement on whether it will support it in its election campaign.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says it will be a mistake for the Government to go ahead with the levy before Labor releases its own position on the matter.”
It’s a tax on the middle class. “
I think the Government’s just not serious about it.
It’s a tax on the middle class.
I think it would be an absolute disaster for the whole nation.”
Labor will be putting the burden on people who will get more and more on the dole, and that’s the way I’d look at it.
“The Opposition has argued that a one percent tax is the fairest way to spend $10,000.
But Health’s chief executive Dr Andrew Copeland said there was a difference between a tax and a levy, and a $10 million levy was not the same thing as a tax.”
You don’t tax the rich because you think that they will spend less money,” Dr Copeland told the ABC’s AM program.”
If you tax the wealthy because they spend more money, then you’re actually increasing inequality, not decreasing it.
Dr Copeland argues that the Labor Party should be looking at other ways of spending $10 on health, including providing support to families with children and helping to reduce child poverty.
But Labor says that’s not how the Government has set up the tax, so it won’t go ahead and introduce the levy.
In a statement to the ABC, the Labor Government says it’s still examining the issue, but the Government is making it clear it wants to find a better way to finance the system, not impose a one cent levy.
“There are many other ways that we could spend money, and they’re all good, and many of them would increase the number of people on the pay-as-you-go system, but we have not decided which way to use those funds,” the statement said.
Mr Abbott says the new tax will help pay for a national health plan, and help tackle the growing demand for health care services in remote communities.
“It will pay for the $1.5 billion that the Government says is needed in the next two years, but I’m not sure that’s enough,” he said.