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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6799

Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (11:08): While most of the country were up late last night watching the State of Origin and then the soccer, and while some people were at a charity ball here in this building, the parliamentary secretary was in front of the mirror practising his audition. He was up all night practising his audition for Senator Sinodinos' shadow ministry job. I wish you well with that, Parliamentary Secretary. Hopefully, for him, that competition is not judged on facts because there was a whole bunch of stuff the parliamentary secretary just said which was patently false. I will not go through all of it—it would take me hours to go through all of the factual errors in what he just said; but let me pick up a couple.

If the government was fair dinkum about participation, for example, they would not be attacking the childcare system. If they were fair dinkum about this so-called budget emergency they would not have doubled the deficit when they came into government. If they were serious about budget repair they would not be spending $21 billion on a scheme that gives the wealthiest mothers in the country the most money that they least need. There were all kinds of things in there, but I want to focus on the Federation as part of this portfolio.

I have a couple of questions that I would like the parliamentary secretary to deal with. Firstly: they make a big deal in their budget documents about a functioning Federation and reform; they have a white paper coming and all the rest of it. It is very curious that they would abolish the COAG Reform Council. It is very curious that, when premiers right around the country are calling for a meeting to discuss the cuts to payments to states, there has been no meeting scheduled. I would like to know from the parliamentary secretary what is the plan for engaging with the premiers and state treasurers who are so critical of the budget. That is the first set of things I would like him to elaborate on. And then there are the cuts to the COAG Reform Council.

I also very specifically would like him to refer to page 7 of their own budget overview document—and I am happy to provide a copy if the parliamentary secretary would like it. I would like him to confirm that my eyes are not deceiving me and that it says:

In this Budget the Government is adopting sensible indexation arrangements for schools from 2018, and hospitals from 2017-18, and removing funding guarantees for public hospitals. These measures will achieve cumulative savings of over $80 billion by 2024-25.

Every day in question time the Prime Minister denies this bit I have helpfully highlighted it in green for the benefit of the House. It says that there is $80 billion in cuts to schools and hospitals. I would like the parliamentary secretary very specifically to confirm that that is indeed the government's budget document and that that number is indeed true.