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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3897

Mr CONROY (Charlton) (13:36): This budget is brutal for the Hunter region. It will have a significant and far-reaching impact on the delivery of health services across the whole of the Hunter. In February this year we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the introduction of Medicare, Australia's universal healthcare system. It is a damning indictment on this government that, as we mark this anniversary, in this budget they have demonstrated that they are intent on abolishing it. The universal provision of health care based on need—not ability to pay—is a hallmark of a decent and civilised society. The Liberal Party have never believed in universal health care and with the introduction of the GP tax, they will no longer see it in Australia.

Before the last election the Prime Minister promised there would be no new taxes and no cuts to health. On Tuesday night the government broke these promises and introduced a $7 visit GP tax.

In my electorate of Charlton, 82 per cent of medical services are bulk-billed. This means that Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey are costing the residents of Charlton nearly $6 million a year because of their broken promise. We also have the John Hunter Hospital, which is the largest hospital between Sydney and Brisbane and the only trauma hospital. The John will be severely impacted by the shift of people who cannot afford to go to GPs and will now clog up its emergency wards. What is even worse, we have seen $3 billion of cuts to hospitals in the budget, and possibly even more as part of the $80 billion cuts. This is a government that does not care about health and does not care about sick people. The residents of Charlton will suffer because of that.