Health Department officials have today revealed the Government has been working in secret for 18 months on plans to privatise the Medicare payments system.

In Senate Estimates today officials confirmed a $5 million 20 person taskforce has been established to advance the privatisation project, with the first tenders due back within a fortnight.

However, the project, which the Department describes as examining the “commercial possibilities” of the Medicare payments system, has been kept from the public and the Parliament, with none of the tenders listed on the official government AusTender website.

Estimates has heard that the Government has been secretly pursuing the plan after a request in late 2014 from former Health Minister Peter Dutton.

Today’s revelations that this process has been underway for 18 months, at the request of Government, involving significant resources of funds and staff from Health should be of deep concern to all Australians who care about Medicare.

The Turnbull Liberals’ advanced, secret plans to sell off Medicare services could jeopardise the patient data of every Australian and the jobs of 1400 staff at centres all around the country.

Despite protests from the Minister, it is clear these proposals go way beyond simply “digitising” the Medicare payments system.

If enacted, this plan, from the failed Commission of Audit Report, would mean that these important functions would be delivered for profit, not with the best interests of patients in mind.

Today’s revelations confirm that after spending their first two years in office trying to kill Medicare, the Liberals will now spend 2016 trying to sell it.


Senator Katy Gallagher is Labor's Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness and the Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader on State and Territory Relations.

This is a joint release with Labor's Shadow Health Minister Catherine King MP and Labor's Shadow Minister for Human Services Senator Doug Cameron.

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