Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann

While echoing the Prime Minister’s words about the government considering “an adjustment here and an adjustment there” in order to see the Federal Budget pass through the Senate, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann – Joe Hockey’s fellow cigar smoker - gave nothing away in a breakfast interview with ABC RN’s Fran Kelly.  

Asked to comment on the Budget’s proposed - and widely opposed - GP co-payment of $7.00, he said, “Let’s see what will and won’t go through [the Senate]”.

Pressed for more detail, the minister added, with some verbosity, “What we have focused on is making sure that affordable and timely access to high quality health care will continue to be sustainable over the medium to long term, and of course the $7 co-payment does present a price signal.”

Regarding the equity issue, he said, “The important point here is that when it comes to pensioners and other concession care holders, under our proposal for co-payment … no pensioner will pay more than $70 a year for unlimited access to medical services.”

In response to Fran Kelly’s comment that while well known, this argument hadn’t convinced the cross-bench MPs, the AMA, and the community more generally, Minister Cormann said the government still had “a lot of time to engage”, considering that the proposed change was not due to take effect until 1 July 2015.

Presumably a good deal more here-and-there’ing will occur in the interim.