Local residents, community organisations and union groups gathered at Wollongong’s City Diggers this evening to discuss tax reforms that could be implemented by government to stop the privatisation of public health care services and the dismantling of Medicare.
Part of a community awareness campaign run by the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA), in conjunction with local and international groups, the forum canvassed new tax measures, including a financial transactions tax, also known as the Robin Hood tax.
With major concerns over the future of essential public services and access to Medicare, the NSWNMA outlined how governments could raise billions of dollars in revenue using a modest levy, of between 0.005 and 0.05 per cent, placed on the trading of stocks, bonds, derivatives, futures, options and credit default swaps.
General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, who addressed the forum, said it was possible for government to implement a Robin Hood tax to fund services like public health, aged care and Medicare, while shielding low and middle income earners through other taxation changes.
“The Robin Hood tax would target the financial sector and those engaged in high speed, high frequency transactions rather than impacting significantly on ordinary Australians’ personal savings or everyday activities like paying bills online or using an ATM,” Mr Holmes said.
“Instead of trying to slug those already doing it tough by broadening the GST base, we want the government to seriously consider alternative measures, such as a Robin Hood tax, to address the country’s revenue problem.
“We believe this levy is worthy of consideration rather than shifting public health care to an Americanised two-tier health system, where privatisation will impede access to health care and patients will be forced to question their wealth over their health.”
The forum also highlighted how the privatisation of Medicare’s processing system would put tens of thousands of jobs in the public sector at risk and remove all accountability for the way $29 billion in Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme payments are made each year.
The NSWNMA told forum participants how the international community had gained momentum lobbying for the Robin Hood Tax and other countries were moving to implement similar measures.
The European Commission reached agreement with 11 member states earlier this year to develop an Accord that would enable a European Union Financial Transactions Tax, from 1 January 2016. Meanwhile, France and Italy have introduced their own domestic financial transactions taxes.
With the G20 Leaders’ Summit to be held in Brisbane next week, the NSWNMA and its affiliates called on the government to participate in discussions with European representatives, as well as contribute to dialogue for a global consensus.
Tomorrow (Tuesday, 4 November), the NSWNMA’s road tour will continue north to the G20, stopping at Parramatta, Gosford, Newcastle, Tamworth, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Lismore and Tweed Heads to host local forums and garner support for its ‘Bring the Robin Hood tax to Australia’ campaign.
The road tour will be joined by Global Nurses United, representing nursing and midwifery unions across 14 nations, and Public Services International, a global trade union federation of public service members.
In Queensland, the tour will meet up with its peak national body, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, as well as the Queensland Nurses Union for G20 events, including a joint forum on Thursday 13 November to discuss support for tax justice, the Robin Hood tax and the release of international research into the effects of privatisation on health care.
For more details on the Robin Hood tax campaign, visit www.nswnma.asn.au/get-involved/tax-justice/.
NB: Guest speakers including NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, and CPSU Workplace delegate, Juliette Ashton, will address the forum at City Diggers, 82 Church St, Wollongong from 6pm – 8pm tonight (Monday, 3 November). Media are welcome to attend.
Download this media release: Robin Hood Tax tour_Support in Wollongong to save public health and Medicare from privatisation