Medicare privatisation threatens privacy and services

The Community and Public Sector Union is gravely concerned by the Government’s secret plans to privatise Medicare, putting the highly sensitive medical and financial records of all Australians into private hands.

The CPSU has been campaigning to keep Medicare and other Government payment services in public hands, and has already collected more than 14,000 signatures of support through

Media reports suggesting such a radical change will be confirmed in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s first Budget have added to the CPSU’s alarm at the Government’s push to allow private companies to profit from essential public services, including sending sensitive work overseas.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “Medicare absolutely needs to stay in public hands. Privatising Medicare would mean handing control of a system that we all rely on to a private company that would not be answerable to the Australian public.”

“The privacy of every Australian's medical records is at stake here, but so is the integrity of Medicare and other services that all Australians rely on. We need these services to be run for the benefit of the people who need them, not for profits to line the pockets of private interests. Australians are right to be suspicious of privatising Medicare and other Government payments, when privatisation always seems to result in increased costs for worse services. 

“This privatisation could threaten thousands of jobs, particularly in regional Australia. These are ordinary working people delivering Medicare services who are worried about their futures. The Government needs to come clean on how many jobs are threatened by their move.”

“Privatising Medicare payments would mean that when you need to lodge a claim, that personal information would be handled and processed by a private company, with the data possibly being sent overseas."

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Government have not made a public case for this sell-off plan or even debated it properly in Parliament. It’s privatisation by the back door. It’s the beginning of the end of Medicare as we know it, opening the door to the privatisation of other public services as well.”

“The Government is trying to justify privatising Medicare because the computer systems need an upgrade. Prime Minister Turnbull's Digital Transformation agenda is looking like cover for a massive sell off.  Government ICT systems need upgrading like any organisations. When we have to upgrade our national security ICT systems, should we sell that to the highest bidder?"

“It’s telling that this plan has emerged as the Coalition’s close ties to big business have once again been laid bare, with the responsible Minister for Human Services and Veterans Affairs Stuart Robert, who oversees Medicare payments, facing serious questions over his conduct in promoting a mining company’s interests.”