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Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Page: 10374

Dental Health


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:26): My question is to the Acting Prime Minister. Does the Acting Prime Minister agree with the health minister's statement that the newly proposed dental health scheme is an additional $4 billion expense for the budget, which must be funded by new savings, or does he agree with the Prime Minister's statement that the dental health scheme is a budget savings measure? Or is the government just making it up as it goes along?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:26): The fact is that the shadow Treasurer, in his usual sloppy way, is in fact making it up himself. So let's just go very clearly through this. The health minister has developed an excellent scheme to improve dental services in Australia. Everyone on this side of the House is absolutely proud of what we have done in this area. Of course, what we have done at the same time is to remove and close down a scheme put in place by the current Leader of the Opposition which was blowing out in terms of its cost. It was blowing out and a very, very big drain on the budget over a long period of time. It is one of the great atrocities that has been committed on the budget by this current Leader of the Opposition. And because it was not delivering value for money we said that we would abolish it, and he has been holding up its abolition in this House for years and years and years.

But, yes, it is already counted in our forward estimates because we have announced our intention to abolish it, and that is factored into our budget. So, yes, we do have to find additional savings to fund the scheme. So both are correct. The only misrepresentation here is from the shadow Treasurer over there, who is seeking in his usual way to twist the facts.

This is the reason, of course, that he will not take that walk around to the Parliamentary Budget Office, which is not as far as Aussie's. He spends plenty of time around there. He could take a walk around to the Parliamentary Budget Office and submit his costings, which he has told all Australians are now complete. If they are complete, why don't you show them to the Australian people? We can see the secret hidden agenda that you have to slash health and education, because that is the only way you are going to make up the room for your hidden agenda and your policies into the future. So let's see someone be fair dinkum over there and take their policies around to the budget office. Let's see whether you are fair dinkum or not.


Mr HOCKEY (North Sydney) (14:28): Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask a supplementary question to the Acting Prime Minister—a very simple question. According to his own budget papers, is this new dental health scheme going to spend more or less over the next four years?


Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:29): Factored into the budget bottom line is the abolition of the chronic dental scheme. That is what we have factored into the budget bottom line, and we put out there our new scheme and we have said we will find savings to fund it.