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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3931


Mr CONROY (Charlton) (15:56): I am proud to be part of a party that will be voting against any attacks on Medicare and any measures that deter sick people from going to the doctor's. The truth is that this is a budget built on a lie. It is built on a confected budget emergency, and that has given those on the other side an excuse for a raft of broken promises. Remember the promises before the election: no changes to the pension, no increased taxes, no cuts to health. All lies; all untruths. They were all said to gain government. Now, in government they have found a confected budget emergency, and it is families that are feeling the pain. The GP tax is one of the greatest betrayals of all. People in the Hunter will pay an extra $25 million per year because of the GP tax. It will deter people from going to the doctor's. International studies have shown that it will deter people from going to the doctor's. What is even worse is they are reducing the incentive for doctors to bulk-bill and increasing the cost of medicine. This is all an attack on Medicare, as the member for Throsby mentioned before.

Fraser, when in government, killed Medibank; Howard lost an election in '87 trying to kill Medicare; Hewson in '93 lost an election trying to kill Medicare. I will give the current government some credit. They were a bit smarter this time. They knew that they had to slowly strangle it. So they are doing it inch by inch, cut by cut, and this is the start of the process. They are going to be deterring sick people from going to the doctor's, and that will place further pressure on emergency departments and hospitals around the country.

I have the honour of having the biggest hospital between Sydney and Brisbane in my electorate. With the only trauma centre in the area, it has the busiest emergency department in the entire state—and that is the John Hunter Hospital. It will suffer increased pressure because of this. Sick people on low incomes will have no choice but to go to the emergency ward instead of seeing their GP. What makes this worse is that this budget also contains $1.2 billion in cuts to New South Wales hospitals—another broken promise by a government of broken promises. Further down the track we are seeing $80 billion in cuts to hospital and education funding by this government. No wonder Mike Baird said that this is a kick in the guts.

But I was wondering what the Prime Minister thought about this area in the past—and, luckily, I heard a journalist talk about this earlier. I do not trust anything the Prime Minister says because, clearly, we cannot trust it. He has always said that you have to get it in writing. So I went to his bible, Battlelines—do not worry, I did not pay for it. I went to the library. I am not going to help the Prime Minister go to another wedding. On page 133 of this book, which he spent a year writing, or which someone else wrote for him, he said:

Commonwealth spending on health and education now approaches $90 billion a year, or about a quarter of its total spending.

And it goes on to say:

… any withdrawal of Commonwealth involvement or spending in these areas would rightly be seen as a cop out.

So this is the man of action—action man Abbott—in his own words copping out, hurting our public hospitals and condemning the sick and vulnerable to suffer second-rate health.

We should not expect anything better from this government because this government is all about pain for families and blaming everyone but themselves for their broken promises. We have also seen it in the pension—they are attacking almost 100,000 pensioners in the Hunter. Changing indexation is a cut by another name. Increasing the retirement age to the highest retirement age in the world is also an attack on pensions. I have got many workers in my electorate who have no confidence that they will ever get to 70 years of age in the workforce. They are the ones who are going to suffer because of these cuts. We have seen cuts to family benefits. This is a party that claimed to be the party dedicated to reducing the cost of living. How can you reduce the cost of living when you are slugging families with a $5,000 cut to their family tax benefit, with a petrol tax hike and with the abolition of the schoolkids bonus? How is that helping families with the cost of living?

This is a government that has betrayed the people. In my electorate of Charlton, my office has been inundated with phone calls opposed to these changes. This is a mean and sneaky budget that will hurt sick people, hurt pensioners and hurt families, and there is tremendous anger in the community. The government have been pretty quiet in question time over the last few days because they know that attacking Medicare is a political no-no. We will have wait to see the defence. As the member for Throsby mentioned earlier, let them go back to the electorate and defend these attacks on Medicare. They are the party that killed Medicare; they are the party that hates helping poor people go to public hospitals. It is incredible. They are the party that have breached the trust placed in them by the electorate. They are the party that said that they were the adults in government. How adult is it to lie to the people or to deter sick people from going to a doctor? I for one will not stand for it and will happily fight against it. (Time expired)