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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3918


Ms KING (Ballarat) (15:02): Madam Speaker, my question is to the Prime Minister. As the budget papers show, this week the Prime Minister has cut $80 billion out of health and education. Today it has been reported that, as a result of this decision, 250 subacute beds will close in Victoria this year and the Victorian Minister for Health has said cuts will likely mean 'hundreds of millions and likely billions of dollars' being cut. Will the Prime Minister take responsibility for the consequences of his cuts and his broken promises?

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (15:02): We said pre-election that we would not be bound by Labor's pie-in-the-sky promises for the out years. We absolutely said that. We made it absolutely crystal clear that borrowing to make unsustainable, unaffordable promises simply was not on. We have made it crystal clear in the budget that in 2017-18 there will be a lower rate of increase in health and hospital spending. We have made that absolutely crystal clear—

Ms Collins: A cut!

Ms King: A cut!

Mr ABBOTT: Not a cut; a lower rate of increase. We were absolutely upfront about this pre-election, and we have been absolutely upfront about this in the budget.

I appreciate that some of the state premiers are unhappy about this. I appreciate that. I should also point out that they are very happy about the infrastructure spending in the budget, and, yes, as far as the states are concerned there are swings and roundabouts. There are some things that they do not like; there are some things that they do like. But what we have done is given them at least three years to prepare, and I am looking forward, through the federation white paper process, to a constructive and collegial dialogue to improve our federation and to try to ensure that the states and territories are sovereign in their own spheres.