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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 7306


Mr JOHNSON (12:40 PM) —Today in the Australian parliament I want to yet again bat for the constituents of Ryan who have contacted me in relation to the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. In recent weeks I have received scores of emails and phone calls from Ryan residents who are deeply concerned that the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is going to be terminated by the Rudd Labor government. They are deeply concerned because they have seen in recent months that the federal Labor Party, led by Prime Minister Rudd, simply does not know how to spend taxpayers’ money in the most efficient and appropriate fashion. We have seen $900 cheques go out to Australians and we will see the Australian government rack up some $315 billion in deficit, which will be a chain around the necks of the future taxpayers of Australia. In the parliament today, as the member for Ryan, I want to flag the deep concerns of those many residents of suburbs all around the Ryan electorate who have contacted me to express their deep concern that this important program—initiated by the former Howard government—is going to be axed.

About 90 Australians die each week from bowel cancer. This cancer can be treated successfully if detected in its early stages. But currently fewer than 40 per cent of bowel cancers are detected early. That is why this program—and I say again that it was a vision of the Howard government—was put in place. It was put in place so that Australians could have a chance of surviving this awful cancer. The Howard government, as part of its Strengthening Cancer Care initiative in the 2005-06 budget, allocated some $43.4 million over three years for the phasing-in of a national bowel cancer screening program.

Today we live in the era of the Rudd federal Labor government, which is putting the axe to these kinds of programs. It is going to do that because it has given away taxpayers’ money to individuals throughout the country in the form of a $900 cheque per person. Imagine if that kind of money were spent on aged-care facilities. Imagine if that kind of money were spent on income-producing assets and infrastructure. Imagine if that kind of money were spent on small to medium sized businesses. Imagine if that kind of money were spent on medical and scientific research in wonderful institutions like the University of Queensland, in the suburb of St Lucia in the Ryan electorate. Imagine if that $42 billion were spent on those kinds of priorities instead of on giving $900 cheques to people—many of whom are deceased or live overseas and have spent their money in the economies of other countries.

Today I want to bat again for the Ryan constituents who have contacted me. I want to flag some streets and suburbs of residents who have contacted me: Gower Street, Toowong; Sirocco Street, Jamboree Heights; Canowie Road, Jindalee—and both Canowie Road and Sirocco Street are in centenary suburbs—Brisbane Street, St Lucia; Dean Street, Toowong; Wynyard Street, Indooroopilly; Elvendon Street, The Gap; Upper Brookfield Road, Upper Brookfield; and Sweetgum Street, Bellbowrie. These are all people in the Ryan electorate who have emailed me to express their deep concern at the priorities of the Rudd Labor government. They have urged me to ensure that this significant program initiated by the Howard government remains in place.

I remind them that unfortunately these kinds of very worthwhile programs that invest in the health of Australians and that were the vision of the Howard government are precisely the types of programs that are going to be axed, because we face hundreds of billions of dollars of deficit. It is a great shame that the fiscal rhetoric of Mr Rudd when he was opposition leader now sees him in government totally misleading the Australian people. I have even had representations from people who do not live in my electorate but who live in places like Sumner Park in the Oxley electorate and Chelmer in the Moreton electorate. These electorates have Labor members, but their constituents are contacting me about their disgust at the Rudd government. I say to these people: rest assured that your local member is going to fight hard for you so that these kinds of worthy programs stay in place. (Time expired)