Policy and Advocacy

Cuts to hospital Meal Entertainment benefit - Your help needed

The Federal Government is proposing to cap the meal entertainment tax concessions to $5,000 grossed up (or approximately $2,500 per annum net) for employees of Victorian public hospitals. Doctors and nurses have enjoyed the small benefit that is available through the ‘meal entertainment’ concession.

AMA began lobbying the Federal Government when we heard that there might be some consideration of changes to the Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) and sought assurances that no changes would be made prior to the completion of the tax system review. Yesterday’s announcement came without warning and without consultation. 

Your help is needed in opposing this knee jerk reaction to unsupported allegations of ‘rorting’.

Our view on the changes:

The Federal Government had embarked on a process to review this benefit as part of a general review of the tax system.  See chapter 7, http://bettertax.gov.au/publications/discussion-paper/.

The Federal Assistant Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has pre-empted these considerations with a unilateral decision to minimise this benefit without compensation to Victorian hospitals.

The impact is obvious.

Specialists will perceive the changes as a pay cut.  Many donate their private practice income to public hospitals.  This is a real blow given the stress of working in a stretched hospital system.

The change will make medicine (and nursing) a less attractive option for students given the earnings disparity between public and private sectors. 

For those ‘employed’ as rural and regional specialists and Career Medical Officers (currently in short supply), many will look to options in the private sector for work.

For highly qualified visiting consultants, the changes will exacerbate the disparity between public/private earnings.  Many will cut down hours of work in public hospitals as it is the ‘last straw’.  

Specialists play a critical role in supervising and training the large numbers of junior doctors coming through the system.  The major issue is that specialists (unlike most other employees in Victorian hospitals), take a ‘pay cut’ to enter the public system. 

The timing of this change is appalling.

This will affect the ability for hospitals to provide care to patients at a time when the State Government is investing to expand hospital capacity.

We have written to politicians at both federal and state levels outlining these issues.  We need your help.

We ask that you write to the Federal Assistant Treasurer, Health Minister, Opposition Leader and the Shadow Minister for Health detailing your concerns about these changes by next Tuesday 12 May.

You can download draft emails here:

Federal Health Minister, the Hon. Sussan Ley
Federal Assistant Treasurer, Mr Josh Frydenberg
Federal Opposition Leader, Mr Bill Shorten
Shadow Minister for Health, Ms Catherine King

We would appreciate if you would amend the email drafts for your own circumstance if you wish, and Bcc AMA Victoria’s email address, reception@amavic.com.au, into any emails you send. 

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