Albanese is committed to strengthening 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 would provide better care and access to patients.

The Strengthening Medicare Fund would provide $250 million a year for three years beginning in 2023/24, and would seek to provide greater affordability for patients and provide better management for complex and chronic conditions.

Labor would also establish a Medicare that would be chaired by the health minister and bring together political leaders in health, such as the Australian Medical Association.

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

Albanese, who will kick off the campaign in Darwin on Saturday, said the funds would make it easier for people to see a GP.

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

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

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

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

Mr Morrison will kick off the day by campaigning in Melbourne on Saturday, when he will announce the expansion of a program designed to get more high school students into sports.

The expansion of the Sporting Schools program would allow up to 700,000 more students to play sports in school, with more than $20 million spent on the initiative.

The programme, currently available to students in years 7 and 8, will be extended to years 9 and 10.

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

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

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

“It also creates opportunities and connections to support those students who are pursuing their athletic dreams and looking to become the next Sam Kerr, Ellyse Perry or Lance Franklin.”

An additional $4.8 million will also be spent to support the purchase of surf living clubs equipment, such as defibrillators and rescue boards and other safety equipment.

Just a week before Election Day, Morrison faces an uphill battle to retain office, according to the latest polls.

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

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