Fear of Green teeth

Senator Bob Brown

Following on from the revelation that the Federal Government is struggling to find money to pay for their dental deal with the Greens comes news that Senator Bob Brown believes the money can be found by scrapping a proposed cut to company tax.

Last September, as part of their agreement with the Greens to ensure stability of government, the Gillard government promised to consider proposals for improving the nation’s investments in dental care. Five months on, the government is struggling to find savings to pay for a dental scheme, which is placing pressure on an already tight budget.

The government’s proposed mining profits tax, worth $38 billion over a decade, would fund a cut in company tax from 30 per cent to 29 per cent. Senator Brown says he has calculations which show this would mean returning some $18 billion to big business, and he wants the money used elsewhere.

The Greens went into the last election with a policy to implement a Medicare-style Denticare policy, although it is unclear whether that involved implementing the policy suggestion of the NHHRC or whether they were describing a different, universal health-care system parallel, or part of, Medicare.

But the problem remains the potential cost of such as scheme. Estimated costs range between $5.5 and $11 billion. The Greens have indicated they are prepared to see universal access phased in over a number of years, with an initial scheme focussing solely on low-income earners. This would bring their plan into line with the ADA’s DentalAccess proposal, which was delivered to the government last year. The ADA says there are around 4.2 million people with healthcare concession cards which would qualify them for such a scheme. The ADA scheme has been costed at around $2 billion annually.


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