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Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Page: 2800

Mrs ELLIOT (Richmond) (15:41): It is always interesting to be following the member for Riverina, and that series of tall tales he put to us. It is like he is living in rainbow land along with the rest of the National Party. When they go home and people ask them questions about why they made these massive cuts and why they increased taxes, I wonder what they say to them? I wonder what they say when people ask them about their petrol tax and their cuts to pensions? It is always nice to hear that little piece of fantasy that they present to us. As I say, they are all living in rainbow land. In my area, in the North Coast of New South Wales, that is why they cannot be trusted. Everyone knows that. They just cannot be trusted because of their broken promises.

The fact is that this government's unfair budget and cruel cuts have been devastating not just for the nation but also for regional areas like mine, the electorate of Richmond. The deep concern now is that this year's budget will be just as deep and just as cruel and just as unfair because of this government's massive mismanagement. Everyone knows they are in utter chaos; they cannot manage anything at all. There are real concerns that there are going to be just as severe cuts in this year's budget. All we are seeing from this government today—whether it be here in MPIs or in question time, or throughout the day—is chaos, mismanagement, conflicting narratives and backflips on a whole range of issues. Today, the Prime Minister said that the government will get back to broad balance by 2019-20. This, quite frankly, means the commitment to the same cuts that were in last year's budget. All we get is a series of bad decisions from a bad government. It just keeps on going.

Locals in my area have every right to feel betrayed by this government, and in regional areas of course that betrayal is by the National Party. A Liberal-National government continue to relentlessly attack the standard of living of Australians by cutting pensions and cutting family payments, slashing services and increasing taxes—hurting, of course, the most vulnerable in our community.

Indeed, before the election, we had all these promises made that there would be no changes to pensions, health care, GP tax and no cuts to education. After the election all those promises were broken. It was an unprecedented attack on the living standards of millions of Australians. The fact is, since the Liberal-National Party's unfair budget last year, locals in my area have had to deal with so many cruel measures like those cuts to pensions and health and aged care cuts as well, yet all we keep seeing now is more of the chaos.

I will move to health cuts because this is something that has really impacted people in my area. Firstly, we recently had the Prime Minister claiming that the GP tax is now dead, buried and cremated. Locals in my area know that you cannot trust Liberals and especially the National Party when it comes to health care and hospitals. We also have, at the moment, the state government out there trying to blackmail people seeking some small amount of funding for their hospitals. They are saying, 'You will only get this if you agree to the sale of electricity assets.' Can I tell you, a lot of people are saying that this is the reason they are not trusting the National Party, because they are selling electricity assets, which will push up electricity prices.

But back to the GP tax. Regardless of what the Prime Minister or health minister have announced, we know that the GP tax will be back—make no mistake about it. It is not gone. It is not buried. The Prime Minister said he is committed to it. This is all about the Liberal-National Party destroying Medicare and destroying bulk-billing because this is their agenda. Part of this attack also includes the $50 billion to be slashed from the hospital funding agreements.

You will recall, Mr Deputy Speaker, that I asked the Prime Minister today in question time specifically about those $50 billion worth of cuts and how they will impact on my electorate. Do you know what he did? He refused to answer. Do you know why he refused to answer? It is because he is weak and running scared. The Prime Minister is weak and running scared and would not answer my question about how his $50 billion cut will impact on hospitals on the north coast of New South Wales.

One of the cruellest cuts is the one to the age pension. Again, we had the Prime Minister and his candidates running around all over the country—in my area it was National Party candidates—saying, 'There'll be no cuts to pensions. There'll be no changes there.' Of course, when they got into office, we saw huge changes with their cuts to pensions.

But it got worse over the weekend. We saw some changes. What they say now is that they only want to index the pension by the consumer price index. The fact is that, under Labor, the pension was indexed by whichever was the higher of wages, the consumer price index or the pensioner index that Labor introduced. This was to make sure that pensions kept up with the general standard of living of all Australians. This is just the government's latest mean trick.

There was such an array of cruel cuts and unfair methods brought in with the last budget. Many people have real concerns that this year's budget will be just as bad. People have no faith in this government. They think the government are cruel and unfair and that all they seem to introduce are a series of mean and unfair tricks. As I have said, all we see from this government is chaos, conflicting narratives and backflips on a range of issues. I am constantly told by people in my area that they do not trust the National Party. Whether it is at the federal level or the state level, they do not trust them one bit because we constantly get bad decisions from bad governments. The fact is that this is a government with a commitment to deep cuts which are hurting every Australian.