BY TIM GOODEN
GEELONG — On June 11, 100 people attended a public meeting convened by Gavin O'Connor, ALP MP member for the federal seat of Corio, to hear speakers talk about defending Medicare.
The meeting was addressed by Australian Nursing Federation industrial organiser Barbara Fletcher, Geelong ALP councillor Heather Wellington, Victorian Medicare Action Group member Tim Woodruff and Victorian Trades Hall Council (VHTC) secretary Leigh Hubbard.
Speakers called for a campaign to lobby the Senate to block the federal government's attacks on Medicare.
Woodruff criticised the ALP for being silent on the $2.2 billion of taxpayers' money that is being pumped into private medical insurance by the Howard Coalition government. He argued that this money should be used in the public health system.
When Hubbard was questioned about union plans to fight the Coalition's attacks on Medicare, he said he did not think there would be any union-organised protest rallies until the ACTU congress in August. However, he said the VTHC will be supporting the "lobby the Senate" campaign.
The meeting voted to form a Medicare Action Group, which will hold its first meeting at 5pm on June 19 in the Geelong Trades Hall.
On June 13, supporters of the Medicare Action Group rallied outside the office of Stewart McArthur, Liberal MP for the federal seat of Corangamite. They carried a black coffin and chanted "Howard doesn't care — don't bury Medicare".
The rally was called and led by Geelong Trades Hall secretary John Kranz.
From Green Left Weekly, June 18, 2003.
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