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Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Page: 773


Mr LAMING (Bowman) (14:51): My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister update the House on the importance of reducing waste in the Health portfolio? Can the minister give any examples of waste in this vital sector?

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Health and Minister for Sport) (14:52): This is a very, very important question. The previous government presided over an enormous amount of waste in the Health portfolio—the former minister looks away, looking for some help from fuelwatch and GroceryWatch man beside her. She presided over the $650 million. You won't get any tips from him, I can tell you that much! You'll get no tips or good advice from that man. He was not only the Treasurer but the failed immigration minister. He was a disgrace.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat. I think the member for Ballarat won the collision at the dispatch box!

Ms King: Always, Madam Speaker! My point of order is on relevance, obviously. The minister was asked a question about health, not about immigration.

The SPEAKER: I call the honourable Minister for Health, and if there was some silence we could hear the answer and hear the relevance of it.

Mr DUTTON: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I was asked about different approaches to the way in which we can eliminate some of the waste from not just the Health portfolio but within the health sector as well. I want to recognise the efforts of the current member for Dobell because she has a very different approach to the health workers within her electorate—a very, very different approach, I might say. There are about 4,000 health workers in the electorate of Dobell. Those workers toil away in public hospitals on minimum wages, in difficult circumstances, and they are the backbone of the health system in this country. The current member for Dobell of course wants to represent them, to work hard for them. She wants to make a better situation in our health system across the country. She is a great champion of health workers, not just in her electorate but across the country.

Of course, the contrasting approach is very, very interesting. I notice the Leader of the Opposition has picked up a pen and he is writing furiously. 'Union Bill' needs to listen to this response because this is very important. It is about workers you pretend to represent, Mr Shorten.

Mr Burke: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker: on addressing members by their title, this minister plays a different game to anyone else in the chamber. Can he please be brought to order?

The SPEAKER: The minister will refer to members by their correct title.

Mr DUTTON: Certainly, and thank you very much for the compliment from the member opposite. Thank you very much, Member for Watson.

The problem is that the former member for Dobell, who was sanctioned by the Leader of the Opposition, who was protected by each and every union official sitting opposite, and there are many union bosses sitting opposite who pretend to put the workers as their priority—the former member for Dobell's great approach to health workers was to take the money out of the pocket of health workers but to put it into the pocket of other workers, just not health workers. I can tell you that not only did it extend to those 4,000 workers, but the HSU was ripped off by not only the member for Dobell but other union officials, of course. All of that was known to members opposite but they did nothing about it. And in actual fact they paid $350,000 of legal expenses for the previous member, to protect the former member for Dobell. There is a very different approach that Labor takes to workers. We will protect the workers. They pretend to.