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Wednesday, 13 February 2013
Page: 1341

Ms GAMBARO (Brisbane) (16:58): Under these two additional appropriations bills, the government is seeking to appropriate a further $1.27 billion from consolidated revenue. The reason the government has to make such a substantial raid on consolidated revenue is that, in true Labor fashion, it has once again run out of other people's money to spend. This is hardly surprising from a government that had a $120 billion black hole of unfunded spending promises.

The government has been forced to admit that it has lost control of the country's finances and has walked away from its so-called 'not negotiable' budget surplus promise for 2012-13. This is despite the fact that, on no fewer than 650 occasions, Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Treasurer Wayne Swan and finance minister Penny Wong have repeated their promise to deliver a surplus. But broken promises are what this government specialises in. Who could forget the Prime Minister saying, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead'? We all know how that turned out. When it comes to broken promises, the Gillard government should take instruction from President Obama's State of the Union Address today. I want to repeat what the Leader of the Opposition also quoted today. President Obama said: 'Our government shouldn't make promises we cannot keep, but we must keep the promises that we've already made.' I also wanted to quote President Obama, because I think that is a very important point. But, regrettably, when it comes to certainty, the Australian people can only depend on the Gillard government to deliver broken promises, budget deficits and more and more waste.

This government has delivered four of the biggest budget deficits in living history, with a cumulative value of $172 billion, which in effect means that the government has spent $172 billion more than it earned over the period. In 2011-12 net debt hit an unprecedented $147 billion. This means that we are paying almost $20 million a day in interest to service that enormous debt. That is an incredible reversal of the state of the health of the nation's finances, given that the government inherited a $20 billion surplus from the Howard government, no net debt and $70 billion in net assets.

In true Labor form, the government has sought to blame everyone else for its budgetary failings, and the excuses range from the GFC to lower world commodity prices and everything in between. But the reality is quite simple: the government does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. The government is now spending more than $90 billion a year more compared to the last year of the Howard government. Federal government revenue is now more than $70 billion higher compared to when Labor took office.

We have seen unprecedented levels of waste from this government and there are some unfortunate examples of Labor's greatest hits when it comes to waste. Thanks to Labor's failed border protection policy, the immigration budget has blown out to $6.6 billion in the last four years. The total cost of the NBN has increased by $3.2 billion, from $40.9 billion to $44.1 billion. Labor has spent more than $69.5 million advertising the carbon tax that the Prime Minister said we were not going to have under a government she led. That is an extra $69.5 million of expense of Labor's own creation. Labor is spending approximately $150 million on spin doctors to sell these failed policies.

The member for Griffith's travel bill in the first 12 months as foreign minister was $1.2 million. The Prime Minister clearly was quite happy to have the Australian taxpayer foot the bill to keep the foreign minister out of the country. And who could ever forget the $2.5 billion pink batt disaster? Then, of course, there is one of my personal favourites: the $2.4 million spent by the Department of Parliamentary Services on staff related and training purposes for courses that included—wait for it—advice on how to get a good night's sleep.

There have been many cuts in services and taxes. Labor has announced 27 new or increased taxes since coming to power. The government has made cuts to crucial areas like research, trades and training. In MYEFO there were cuts of $2 billion. Defence has been severely hit, with a $1.66 billion cut in MYEFO in addition to the $5.5 billion in cuts outlined in the budget. Now the Labor government's surplus pledge is gone we can expect that the spending and the borrowing will continue unabated.

Then there is Labor's plan to borrow $10 billion to spend on high-risk clean energy projects simply to appease the Greens. Labor has made $120 billion worth of unfunded spending promises for things like the NDIS, Gonski and dental services. As I mentioned, Labor also borrowed tens of billions of dollars to fund the rollout of the NBN, which would end up being this nation's greatest white elephant ever. The Treasurer's fiscal incompetence and dishonesty is on display once again—not only has he dumped his own 'iron-clad', 'failure is not an option' 'guarantee' to return the budget to surplus this year but also he personally designed a mining tax. But it is a mining tax that is an absolute dud of a tax. The government has virtually no money to pay for the $15 billion of promises it has linked to the mining tax. When I talk to families and businesses, I hear that the carbon tax is a massive act of economic self-harm. It has made us less competitive, made businesses less profitable and is gouging money out of households as energy prices rise.

The impact on the federal electorate of Brisbane is evident—my electors are suffering from the pain of Labor's economic incompetence. The Gillard government recently agreed to an increase in private health insurance premiums, so families and pensioners will have to pay an extra 5.6 per cent. That will drive more and more people out of the private health insurance sector and onto public hospital waiting lists. Every year under the Rudd-Gillard government Australian families have experienced private health insurance increases above the CPI.

The government is cutting $4 billion from private health over the next four years, with its new means test on the 30 per cent rebate. That will cost families up to an extra $1,200 a year—and this is on top of the latest premium increases, which will cost the average Australian family nearly $200 a year. Private health insurance is now unaffordable for many families in my electorate and for millions of people around the country who have it but earn less than $35,000 a year. This means that, as people quit or downgrade their health insurance, we will see more and more impost, longer and longer waiting lists and more and more demand on services in public hospitals.

There are 71,105 people in the Brisbane electorate, and 76.9 per cent rely on private health insurance. The policies of the Gillard government are putting more and more pressure on them. Many of them will have to review their health insurance, and many may decide to drop or lower their existing cover. The health system is already under pressure due to the Gillard government's $1.6 billion worth of cuts to public hospitals, which included a cut of $3.4 million to the Royal Children's Hospital in my electorate, in Herston. Hospital cutbacks, broken promises on private health insurance and continued private health insurance increases over and above CPI are taking their toll on families and putting more pressure on our hospital system.

Most parents in my electorate deserve affordable child care. Every child deserves a positive start to life. But this government's funding withdrawal for these services means that children with disabilities and special needs will now be placed in a much more difficult situation. Childcare affordability is one of the greatest cost pressures facing working families in my electorate. Waiting lists are getting longer, and there are many barriers for parents wanting to get back into the workforce. Fortunately, coalition policies are aimed at reducing the cost of child care and include a Productivity Commission inquiry reinstating funding cuts for occasional child care and a genuine paid parental leave scheme that will benefit working Australian families.

Three occasional day care centres in my electorate have had their funding cut or withdrawn by the federal government, and that is placing enormous pressure on families. This government is very long on rhetoric, particularly rhetoric about providing flexibility. That is exactly what the funding for these occasional day care centres provided. Families in the inner city area of Brisbane often tell me they want flexibility in their choice of child care, and I know that our paid parental scheme will provide that flexibility and provide child care when and where it is needed.

I am so disappointed that the Gillard government has withdrawn funding for the inclusive support subsidy for children with a disability or a special need. That is devastating for the parents—it means that parents of children with a disability cannot access a childcare place. They deserve a childcare place and the same access as every other child in child care. Despite the additional $1.27 billion of additional revenue this government is seeking from consolidated revenue, its budgetary incompetence has led to a disastrous cut in the health sector. This has hurt constituents in my area. There have been many other cuts, particularly the $390 million cut that removed rebates from lifetime health cover loading. There has been $1 billion robbed in dividends from Medibank that would have put downward pressure on premiums. As I mentioned, there was the $1 billion in cuts from dental health by abandoning chronically-ill patients on the public list and a number of low-income earners in Brisbane. Pensioners have been left high and dry by this devastating decision. Hundreds of millions in multiple cuts to the Medicare safety net, including maternity and IVF areas, limiting new medicines onto the PBS by politicising the process and a $1.6 billion cut, as I mentioned earlier, which has placed severe revenue restrictions on the Royal Children's Hospital. The dental health scheme has been a devastating development, particularly for those families.

I also want to talk about the cuts to the Department of Defence. Since 2009 the government has cut $24.5 billion from the Department of Defence budget. Apart from the obvious and alarming impacts these monstrous cuts have on the capability of the ADF, they have also impacted on the ability of the Department of Defence to contribute $5.4 million for a new entrance to the barracks off Samford Road to Enoggera Barracks. On 26 June last year Premier Newman announced revised plans for the Samford Road-Wardell intersection, which would include a new entrance to the Enoggera Army Barracks. Under this commitment the Queensland government would spend $65 million to upgrade two intersections at Enoggera to ease traffic congestion on Samford Road.

Senator Feeney, the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, indicated in correspondence to the Queensland government that Defence would possibly contribute $5.4 million for the new entrance, but as yet there is no definite commitment for this money and seemingly there will be no commitment as a result of these bills. Regrettably, Senator Feeney refused again today in Senate estimates to provide an unequivocal commitment from the Gillard government to contribute $5.4 million to the project. Once again we see how this government's fiscal mismanagement has let down the hard-working men and women of the ADF at Enoggera Barracks, my constituents who live in the surrounding suburbs and who have to suffer incredible traffic congestion and the people of Brisbane as a whole. That is what you would expect from a government that is broke. The never-ending smorgasbord of service cuts just keep coming and coming. There is hope.

When 14 September comes around, Australians will get a chance to return the coalition to power. We will restore public finances, get rid of the waste and get Australia back on a fiscally responsible path. The coalition has a record; we have great credentials to stand on; we have done it before. We left a $20 billion surplus, no net debt and an unemployment rate of around four per cent. We did it before, and we will do it again. (Time expired)