The Federal Government has been given another double-dissolution election trigger with the Senate blocking changes to private health insurance for a second time.
The Government wanted to introduce a means test on private health insurance rebates, but the Senate has rejected the legislation.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Family First Senator Steve Fielding sided with the Opposition to block the changes.
The Government announced the plan last year, saying it would save nearly $2 billion over the next four years.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon says the Senate’s decision will blow a hole in the budget.
But the Opposition’s health spokesman, Peter Dutton, says the bill’s defeat is good news for millions of Australians.
“The Coalition’s delivered a victory today for the 11 million Australians who have private health insurance,” he said.
“This is a broken election promise by the Prime Minister and we don’t believe we should have supported a bill which was going to ultimately jack up the prices of premiums that people pay for their private health insurance.”
It is the second time the Senate has rejected the legislation and gives the Government another trigger to call a double-dissolution election.