parliment house canberra 06 AUG 2015 Photo Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate
parliment house canberra 06 AUG 2015 Photo Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate Trevor Veale

Medicare debate divides the Coalition

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull rebuffed Health Minister Sussan Ley yesterday after she said she had wanted to resurrect Medicare rebate increases but Treasury stopped her.

Labor pledged last week to restore indexation of the rebate and yesterday Ms Ley told the ABC she had sought to increase it, but Treasury and Finance Department would not allow it.

The Coalition's budget policy of ensuring all new promises are offset by cuts in the same portfolio may have thwarted her plans.

Mr Turnbull said the reality was the indexation freeze would "end at some point" when the government judged it "affordable within the context of the health budget, that's all that Sussan is saying".

He said it was vital the budget was "properly managed" and the government lived "within our means".

Ms Ley said she told doctors she wanted to end the freeze imposed by the former Labor government.

The debate came as the Newspoll published in The Australian showed the Coalition trailing Labor 49-51 on the two-party preferred measure.

As both leaders continued their campaign, Mr Turnbull headed to the New South Wales' south coast seat of Eden-Monaro to announce $10 million to go towards a $44 million state-federal fund for tourism infrastructure, including an ocean liner port.

Mr Shorten, meanwhile, headed west to Perth and promised $1 billion towards the Metronet rail line in the West Australian capital.

He also said Labor would examine changes to a tax ruling that allowed politicians to claim the expenses of running second homes or apartments in Canberra.

Mr Turnbull has not clarified whether the Coalition will consider such changes, saying only that the tax ruling and other parliamentarians' entitlements are independently set and should remain so.

Also yesterday, Fairfax MP Clive Palmer confirmed his political career was over - for now - ruling out a run for a Senate seat after previously promising not to stand again for the Lower House seat he holds.

He also said the Palmer United Party would be focused on trying to secure Senate seats for its candidates - after a year ago promising to run candidates in all 150 Lower House seats in the country.

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