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Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Page: 295


Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (19:28): The famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud believed denial and blaming others was a defence mechanism that helped people sleep at night. It is exactly that kind of behaviour we see across the Labor Party—federal and state—and even in their candidates: denial and blame shifting.

Late last year, the Gillard Labor government tried to sneak through a savage cut in the health funding it had previously promised to state governments around the nation. Queensland's cut is in the order of $103.5 million, out of which $3.2 million is to be cut from the Mackay region's hospitals and health services. A further $7.8 million is cut from the Townsville health service.

Despite this fact, the Gillard Labor government's candidate for Dawson and the Labor member for Mackay have both tried to deny these cuts and shift the blame onto the Queensland government. They have even attacked the independent chairman of the Mackay Hospital and Health Service board for stating the facts publicly. This unfortunate article, which appeared in the Daily Mercury in Mackay on 15 January 2013, entitled 'Mulherin attacks Meng's ''politics''', says:

ACTING Opposition Leader and Member for Mackay Tim Mulherin has slammed the Mackay Hospital and Health Board for its engagement in a 'political debate'.

   Mr Mulherin said chairman Col Meng's comments on funding cuts had done 'nothing to enhance the board's credibility'.

What was probably worse was that the Labor candidate for Dawson wrote a letter to the editor a few days later, on 21 January 2013. Her first point in that letter was:

There is no federal funding cut to hospitals in Queensland.

That is just plain denial of the facts. She then said:

It is a State Government decision as to where federal funds for hospitals are allocated. If there is a shortfall in our region, it is for the State Health Minister to answer where else in the State our money has gone."

That is blame-shifting. I have news for the Labor candidate in Dawson. The cuts were made throughout the state. Indeed, they were made right across the nation. We have seen the Labor Party change the definition of 'misogyny' to suit a story they want to tell. Now they are trying to change the definition of a cut, but a cut is a cut is a cut. If you allocate money in a May budget and reduce that amount five months later, then that is a cut. In the current budget and the forward estimates, even in the previous year's budget, health funding to the states has all been cut. Here are the facts. I am going to quote from various Treasury documents: the 2012-13 budget delivered in May last year, the final budget outcome 2011-12 released in September last year, the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook released in October—any one of these documents should be a cause for major embarrassment to a government that is incapable of making ends meet. But, when you compare some of the content, you will find it is just as chaotic, dysfunctional and destructive as the government that has produced it. Compare the documents and you can see something the Labor Party refuses to admit—that there have been savage cuts to local health services at the exact time when Labor was attacking the state governments for their cuts. What hypocrisy.

I am going to compare the forward estimates. In 2013-14, the budget document says $2.929 million; MYEFO says $2.84 million, a reduction of $89 million—a cut to Queensland health funding of $89 million. In 2014-15, the budget says $3.267 million; MYEFO says $3.174 million, a reduction of $94 million—a cut to Queensland health funding of $94 million in that year. In 2015-16, the budget says $3.634 million; MYEFO says $3.539 million, a reduction of $96 million—a cut to Queensland health funding in that year of $96 million. But that is not enough.

Not content with cutting funds from the future, this government has decided midway through the year to cut funds from the current financial year. Here it is again. In 2012-13, the budget says $2.724 million; MYEFO $2.661 million, a reduction of $63 million—a cut to Queensland health funding of $63 million. But wait, there's more! Not content with cutting funds midway through the year, the Treasurer decided to grab some money out of last year as well, applying a $40 million retrospective cut to Queensland's health reform funding.

Here it is again. In the 2011-12 budget it is $2.545 million; in the final budget outcome, $2.505 million, a reduction of $40 million—a retrospective cut to Queensland health funding of $40 million. Labor may be able to sleep at night, but the chairman of the health board will not be able to find the savings; and the health workers, whose jobs are less secure, are going to be at risk. (Time expired)