Labor’s GP tax grab at odds with commitment to ‘fix ramping’

Labor’s GP tax grab at odds with commitment to ‘fix ramping’

Posted on: 14 June 2024

In just over two weeks, South Australian patients will pay more to see their doctor as Peter Malinauskas’ GP payroll tax grab starts to take effect.

From July 1, many GP practices will be left with no choice but to increase gap payments after the Malinauskas Labor Government decided to take advantage of a recent interstate tax judgement by refusing to exempt all contractor GP income from payroll tax.

GPs have been sounding the alarm on the situation, warning it will have a disastrous flow-on effect where patients will avoid seeing their doctor and instead end up in our already strained hospital system – with former AMA President, Dr Chris Moy, stating hospital bosses might soon say “we’re going to need a longer ramp”.

South Australian hospitals have been suffering under unprecedented pressure with a record 4,773 hours lost to ramping last month, and no end in sight to elective surgery cancellations in metro hospitals which were announced two weeks ago.

There are fears the decision will also deter medical students from becoming GPs when we desperately need them, with a recent Deloitte Access Economics report predicting a nationwide shortfall of more than 11,000 GPs by 2032.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition, John Gardner, said it’s absurd for Peter Malinauskas to proceed with this tax grab when he promised South Australians he would “fix ramping”.

“At a time when we should be finding ways to alleviate the extreme pressure on our health system, this move by Peter Malinauskas will only create more chaos,” Mr Gardner said.

“South Australia is in the middle of a health crisis and a cost of living crisis, so it’s completely ridiculous for Peter Malinauskas to chart a course that will see patients pay more to see their GP or force them into our EDs.

“We should be making it easier for South Australians to see their GP, not adding barriers, as they play a crucial role in preventing sick South Australians deteriorating to the point where a hospital visit is necessary.”

Shadow Treasurer, Matt Cowdrey, said general practices already operate on slim margins and simply can’t absorb the cost.

“While we cautiously welcomed Labor’s move to exempt wages earned by contractor GPs for bulk-billed services, having listened to concerned GPs we now know that it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough,” Mr Cowdrey said.

“Like many small businesses, GPs are experiencing rising costs and doctors are telling us it’s increasingly difficult for bulk billing practices to cover their operating expenses.

“Peter Malinauskas must reconsider this tax grab, as we fear South Australians will be sicker and poorer as a result. If Labor won’t listen to the calls of senior medical professionals stating that this move will increase ramping and push people away from their GP, we will.”