'We will legislate to protect Medicare'

A VICTORIOUS Labor government would introduce laws to protect Medicare within the first 100 days of the upcoming election, leader Bill Shorten says.

Framing the 2 July poll as a referendum on Medicare's future, Mr Shorten used his budget reply speech to state Labor's strong opposition to any privatisation of the system.

In Tuesday's budget, the Turnbull government announced the freeze on Medicare rebates, first introduced in 2012, would be extended to 2020 - a move that could save more than $900 million.

Medical lobby groups have savaged