The ALP has announced its election policies on the private health insurance rebate for ‘natural therapies’ and on investigations into so-called wind farm syndrome.
As part of its “Budget repair strategy”, the ALP says that, should it win government, the Private Health Insurance Rebate will no longer be available for natural therapies from 1 July 2017.
“The Review of the Australian Government Rebate on Private Health Insurance for Natural Therapies, which was initiated by the former Labor government, found that there was no clear evidence that the natural therapies that were covered by the review were clinically effective.”
The ALP statement claims that this expenditure saving will improve the budget by $180.2 million over the forward estimates, and $704.7 million over the medium term.
At a press conference on Friday, June 10, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said there was nothing wrong with seeking natural therapies like aromatherapy, herbalism or iridology.
“I myself use them from time to time – my personal favourite is the Bowen treatment, I can recommend it to you. But in times of difficult budgetary situations, it is not appropriate for taxpayers to have to fund and subsidise private health insurance cover for these treatments.”
Wind farm syndrome
The ALP has also announced that it will abolish the National Wind Farm Commissioner and the Independent Scientific Commission on Wind Turbines.
“A Labor government will not continue with a position that is little more than a sop to reactionary views about renewable energy. The National Health and Medical Research Council has previously found there is no consistent evidence that a problem exists.”
This expenditure saving is claimed to improve the budget by $1.6 million over the forward estimates and the medium term.
The position of National Wind Farm Commissioner was established in October 2015 for an initial period of three years by the Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt.
The Commissioner’s role is to “receive, handle and refer complaints about wind farms from concerned residents to industry and/or state authorities, and help to ensure complaints are properly addressed”. At the time of its launch, it was said it would draw on the work of the Independent Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines established by the government on possible health and environmental impacts of wind farms.