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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3905


Mr STEPHEN SMITH(10.50 p.m.) —I rise this evening to encourage those opposite to read the fine print of the budget that they are so adulatory of. In the fine print of the budget, you will find that the Liberal Party in this place gives with one hand and whacks families with the other. Let us look at some of the fine print. Education costs are up; HECS is increased; Austudy is cut; university, schools and TAFE funding is cut; and assistance for students with disabilities is slashed altogether. Such was the reception of that portion of the budget in Western Australia that the West Australian referred on its front page to the changes to university funding favouring only the rich.

Education is not enough for this mob; there are also extra health cost cuts and health funding cuts. There is an $800 million cut to hospital funding. That will mean longer hospital waiting lists in the states. The AMA said of the federal budget:

The federal budget will hit the sick, forcing patients to pay more for operations and pharmaceuticals.

If it is not enough to whack the elderly with health costs, you whack them up-front with aged care costs. Older family members who need nursing homes will have to pay up-front entry fees of around $26,000. Then you will get them day by day with new daily fees of up to $34 a day. And if it is not enough to do that, you will make them pay hourly rates—user pays—for things like meals on wheels. On our calculations it will be up to $4 an hour. This is a sensationally compassionate lot opposite. If it is not enough to get families on health, to get them on aged care costs, you whack them with prescription costs. We find that listed prescription drugs will go up from $17.40 to $20. Pensioners who are currently paying $2.70 will find that the price will go up to $3.20. The Pharmacy Guild's report on the budget states that `pensioners may face financial difficulty.' Of course they will.

If it is not enough to whack the people going to schools, TAFE or universities, if it is not enough to whack families whose children are sick and need prescriptions, if it is not enough to whack elderly people who may need to go to hospital or nursing homes, then you get young children, with child-care costs. With the reduction of community based child-care operating fees, families can expect to pay anywhere from $14 to $30 extra per week per child. Child-care funding is cut by about $500 million, shifting the cost burden to families.

Government members interjecting


Mr STEPHEN SMITH —I am pleased to at last see some signs of life over there. I thought for a moment that we could not get any of them to breathe in an iron lung. I am pleased to see some reaction. I encourage you to read the fine print of the budget which you stand up day after day and laud. When the community sees and understands the fine print, the chickens will come home to roost Any decent, respectable government would not place this burden on families. If that is not enough, what do we then find will happen to the most important thing you can give a family, namely, a secure job with secure wages and conditions? The budget projection for growth is 3.5 per cent. That means no jobs. At the same time you are slashing nearly $2 billion from labour market programs to assist those most in need—in particular, the long-term unemployed.

At the precise time when this country needs to continue to turn itself into a modern, manufacturing trading country, the budget forecasts indicate that the net export contribution to growth in GDP for 1996-97 will be negative three quarters, down from plus one per cent under the previous government's policies. You are slashing all the export enhancement programs.

It is not enough to whack families on the basic essentials and services. You are now proposing no jobs, no growth and any chance we had of enhancing our export capacity, which would mean growth and jobs, is being whacked through the slashing of export enhancement schemes.

If, as some people do, you happen to have trouble with your teeth or your ears, you are also whacking away the Commonwealth dental health scheme and you are whacking away the hearing services. I will not reflect on any member of this chamber by drawing attention to those members of this House who have difficulty hearing.

In my own state of Western Australia, this budget will cut over $100 million from Western Australia. How will the state government find that money? In one of three ways: they will cut services, they will cut jobs, or they will impose extra taxes and charges. What has Richard Court had to say about this issue? The silence has been deafening. At least his old man had a bit of ticker. He would always stand up for Western Australia rather than simply mantra chant `Western Australia'. It is about time we saw the Premier of Western Australia stand up for Western Australia and stand up for families who come from Western Australia.


Mrs Johnston —He is doing all right.


Mr STEPHEN SMITH —I am pleased to see the member for Canning has a bit of life. I am pleased to see you are out there arguing that people should pay more for their teeth, for their health care and for their prescriptions. I am pleased to see you nodding agreeably. Yes, you are in favour of no jobs for people and more costs for families. (Time expired)