The move, which builds on one of Labor's traditional strengths of healthcare, is designed to outflank the Coalition and reassert Labor's claim of being the best party to deliver on basic services for ordinary households.
Its timing may also be fortuitous, as it comes as medical professional bodies grow increasingly frustrated at what they believe is a chronic funding shortage in Medicare, which is undermining the very system of universal health insurance.
With concerns over healthcare forming such a key part of the election contest, Fairfax Media understands the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners is preparing to embark on an "unprecedented" $1 million television, radio, and digital media campaign aimed squarely at pressing the major paries into properly funding Medicare.
The campaign, set to begin from May 29, warns Australians that voting for a continuation of the freeze is a vote for higher GP costs.
"The federal government's freeze on Medicare rebates means you'll pay more to see your doctor," it states before concluding with the warning: "It's just not right. In Australia your wealth shouldn't affect your health. Say no to the freeze on Medicare rebates."...
Labor's plan to restore indexation is expected to cost $2.4 billion over the first four years from its intended commencement date of January 1, 2017, making it the biggest spending commitment from either side of politics since the formal election campaign started.
It says the extra funding commitment will be met by not proceeding with the Coalition's 5 cents company tax cut over the next decade, and by not proceeding with either the Vocational Education and Training loans scheme, and the Coalition's new baby bonus...
The RACGP campaign, which will run nationally and via local media in key marginal regional electorates in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, represents a serious attempt by the College to assert a stronger role in public health policy, and in the protection of its approximately 33,000 members.
Both parties have used freezes on indexation in the past to help balance the federal health budget. Labor froze indexation for eight months in 2013, lifting it briefly for GPs in 2014-15. The Coalition extended it for four years in 2014, and this year extended it a further two years to 2020, to save $925.3 million."