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Thursday, 27 June 2013
Page: 7273

Prime Minister

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahLeader of the Opposition) (14:24): My question is to the Prime Minister. I remind him of his promises to take 'a very hard line' on people smuggling, to fix public hospitals or take them over, to run surpluses over the economic cycle and to reduce the cost of living through Fuelwatch and GroceryWatch, all of which promises he subsequently broke or dumped. As he was all talk and no action then, why should the Australian people believe that anything has changed?

Mr RUDD (Griffith—Prime Minister) (14:24): I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question and in his listing of the litany he skipped happily over a number of facts, including the state of our public hospital system and the funding proposals which we have put forward to fix that. I remind the Leader of the Opposition that he went on the public record some years ago to say that he believed the perfect public policy response on his part was to take over the national hospital system of Australia from the states. What I instead proposed as Prime Minister, and what Prime Minister Gillard subsequently followed up on, was an arrangement with the states whereby we would provide 60 per cent of the funding of the public hospital system in order to provide durable public funding from the Commonwealth into the future. My successor as Prime Minister then undertook a further negotiation with the states which landed that at 50 per cent.

Can I say to the Leader of the Opposition a very simple thing? That is, under his period as health minister we saw the level of federal contributions to the public hospital system go down and down and down. Therefore, when the states around Australia said that there was a problem with the hospital system, it was necessary for the Commonwealth to step in and we did.

The SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister will resume his seat. Before the Manager of Opposition Business begins his point of order I will again remind him of abuses of points or order. The Manager of Opposition Business has the call.

Mr Pyne: That would be fair enough, Speaker. My point of order is simply: how can the Prime Minister be relevant to the question when he is repeating a falsehood which has been cleared up in this House time and time again by the Leader of the Opposition?

The SPEAKER: The Manager of Opposition Business will leave the chamber under 94(a). The Manager of Opposition Business knows full well he cannot use points of order for debate.

The member for Sturt then left the chamber

Mr RUDD: And so, Speaker, I would simply say this: under the Leader of the Opposition, when he was minister for health, the relative real contribution by the Commonwealth to the public hospital system of Australia went down and down and down. That is a statistical fact which once again, if the Leader of the Opposition is happy to do so, I would be happy to debate with him one day at the National Press Club. That is: what are the relative funding and contributions by us as opposed to them for the public health of the Commonwealth? I would welcome a debate on public policy, welcome a debate on the future of the health system, welcome a debate on the future of the education system, welcome a debate on the future of the economy and on broadband. I would welcome a debate on national security, but all we get here is politics, politics, politics—the old politics of simply negative interjections and invective as opposed to building a constructive argument for one vision for Australia's future versus anything else he may choose to offer. We are on the side of a positive plan for Australia's future. I wish he would join the bus.