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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6728


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:26): My question is to the Prime Minister. For all of this week, the Prime Minister has claimed, and I quote: 'There are no changes to carers as a result of this budget.' So why does page 206 of his own budget papers reveal a cut of $7.7 million to the National Respite for Carers Program in this financial year?


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:26): I was asked about payments to carers and there are no changes to payments to carers. I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that this is a government which is determined to protect the vulnerable people of this country, but it is also determined to ensure that Labor's debt and deficit disaster is addressed. As Reserve Bank board member John Edwards—the distinguished economist and friend of the Labor Party that the Labor Party appointed to the Reserve Bank Board—said: 'This is a budget crisis. It does need to be addressed.' It is going to be addressed by us in ways to protect the vulnerable.

Mr Burke: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I appreciate the gravity of referring to something as being 'deliberately misleading'—

The SPEAKER: We do not need preambles. The point of order?

Mr Burke: The point of order: it is unparliamentary to refer to someone as 'deliberately misleading'. What term are we meant to use when he is denying his own budget papers? He is standing in the parliament and saying something which is in the budget papers just isn't there.

The SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The member will resume his seat.

Mr ABBOTT: I simply repeat that there are no cuts to payments to carers. We made a series of commitments to carers pre-election and they will be kept. What we are doing in this budget is protecting the vulnerable; but, while protecting the vulnerable, we are doing what we were elected to do, which is to sort out Labor's debt and deficit disaster. If members opposite had any political integrity, they would tell us how they are going to deal with the debt and deficit disaster that they created.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs will desist.

Mr Shorten: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

The SPEAKER: We have already had one on relevance.

Mr Shorten: Madam Speaker, it is very clear that there is a cut to carers. Why won't the Prime Minister tell Australia the truth?

The SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. That is an abuse of the standing orders and he will not do it again.

Mr Shorten interjecting

The SPEAKER: And do not answer back to the chair!

Mr ABBOTT: Members opposite are clearly uninterested in any response to their questions but let me give them one further nugget of information—

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs will remove himself for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Isaacs then left the chamber.

Mr ABBOTT: The final piece of information that I should provide to members opposite—they probably do not want to be reminded of this—is that in 2008, in government, the Labor Party attempted to scrap the carers bonus. Does the Leader of the Opposition remember that?

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members will desist.

Mr ABBOTT: Does the Leader of the Opposition remember that?

Mr Shorten interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition is warned.

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: And those on my right will desist.

Mr ABBOTT: In 2008, the Labor Party was in government and the Leader of the Opposition, who was then a parliamentary secretary, attempted to scrap the carers bonus. They only failed to do that because the opposition successfully opposed it. I want to make it very clear that this government is the best friend that the carers of Australia have ever had.