Albanian vows to strengthen Medicare

Anthony Albanese will pledge more than $700 million to boost Medicare across the country as the election campaign enters its final week.

With a week to go before Australians go to the polls, the opposition leader will announce a $750 million fund that will provide better care and access for patients.

The Strengthening Medicare Fund would provide $250 million annually over three years starting in 2023/24 and seek to provide more accessibility to patients and provide better management for complex and chronic conditions.

The Labor Party would also create a Medicare that would be chaired by the minister of health and bring together health policy leaders such as the Australian Medical Association.

A US$220 million grant program will also be spent at local GP clinics to upgrade systems, purchase equipment and train staff, with grants of US$25,000 or US$50,000 available for practices depending on size.

Albanese, who will start campaigning on Saturday in Darwin, said the funds would make it easier for people to see a grand prix.

“General practice is the cornerstone of the Australian healthcare system,” he said.

“Australians trust their GPs. It is a vital relationship to ensure that all Australians receive the quality healthcare they deserve.”

The Labor Party is in a strong position to win the May 21 election, according to the latest Newspoll figures published ahead of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s campaign launch on Sunday.

Labor leads the coalition 54-46 on a preferential two-party basis.

Morrison will start the day campaigning in Melbourne on Saturday, when he will announce the expansion of a program aimed at attracting more high school students to the sport.

Expanding the Sporting Schools program would lead to up to 700,000 more students playing sports at school, with more than $20 million being spent on the initiative.

The program, currently available to Grade 7 and 8 students, will be expanded to Grade 9 and 10.

The government will also pledge $79.6 million to extend the program to schools for two more years through the end of 2024.

The prime minister said the program will allow more students access to national sports organizations such as Netball Australia, AFL and Cricket Australia.

“Involving more young people in sport helps keep our children active, builds confidence and provides a way for families to connect with community sports clubs as we recover from the pandemic,” he said.

“It also creates opportunities and connections to support students who want to make their sporting dreams come true and who want to become the next Sam Kerr, Ellyse Perry or Lance Franklin.”

An extra $4.8 million will also be spent to support surf clubs in purchasing equipment such as defibrillators and rescue boards and other safety equipment.

With just a week to go before polling day, Morrison faces an uphill battle to keep his job, according to the latest poll.

The prime minister admitted on Friday that he could be a “tractor” and would change aspects of his prime ministership if re-elected.

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