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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12245

Private Health Insurance

Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (14:10): My question is to the Treasurer. I refer to the Treasurer's comments this morning that the coalition previously 'let pass through the parliament Labor's changes to make the private health insurance rebate fairer.' Given the Hansard accurately records that the Liberal and National parties voted against this measure in the House and the Senate, is the government so dysfunctional and chaotic that it has forgotten its own voting record?

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for McMahon obviously thinks he has asked a clever question. Let us listen to the answer—and we will have silence while we do. The Treasurer has the call.

Mr Husic interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Chifley will leave the chamber under 94(a).

The member for Chifley then left the chamber.

Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (14:11): Once again the Labor Party has not done its homework. In the last parliament changes to private health insurance were a difficult issue for us. I well recall a conversation with the now Prime Minister about the matter. It was an issue that caused us great concern because we have always been the best friends of private health insurance. I remember the now Leader of the Opposition coming to me, begging me in that corner over there, to help Labor get through an initiative to take 60,000 single women off parental pensions and put them onto Newstart. So, please, spare us the hypocrisy—

Mr Bowen: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. The question went to the Liberal and National parties opposing private health insurance rebate means testing—

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. The Treasurer is answering the question.

Mr HOCKEY: So we had strike No. 1, with the now Leader of the Opposition begging me over there in the corner to help him take 60,000 single parents off parental pensions and put them onto Newstart.

Mr Champion interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield will leave the chamber under 94(a).

Mr HOCKEY: Strike No. 2 was that this morning the member for McMahon said the reason they introduced a tariff proposal in relation to alcopops was that there was agreement that it would pass at the time of the announcement. Complete codswallop! I was the shadow minister for health. I remember standing at the dispatch box over there holding two bottles of alcohol—it was the only time I held two bottles of alcohol at the dispatch box—simply to make the point that the Labor Party was parading a change to alcopops taxation as a health initiative when in fact it was a tax initiative. I say to the Labor Party that if they want to look at principle, look at where we stand compared with where they stand. Nothing illustrates it better than the hypocrisy of the member for Lilley outside this morning. I savour those moments in the morning when he goes out there. He went out there and said, 'Hang on, we railed against corporate excess and corporate rorting of tax,' and then he refers to the announcement in his budget last year of a crackdown on the 20 largest companies for $1 billion on R&D, and then he comes in here and votes against it. So the Labor Party are the ones that are complete hypocrites on taxation policy. That is because the Labor Party does not believe in anything.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: There will be silence on my left and right.