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Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Page: 2402

Budget


Senator McLUCAS (Queensland) (14:00): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, Senator Nash. I refer to the Prime Minister's pre-election promise of 'no cuts to health' and 'no new taxes'. Will the minister restate that commitment on the floor of the chamber today?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Health) (14:01): I can indicate to the Senate that we will be honouring our election commitment. We will also be honouring our commitment to the Australian people, to fix the economic mess that the previous Labor government has left this nation. We have facing us a serious economic mess and the commitment we made to the Australian people was to fix the budget mess.

When we look at what the previous Labor government has done, when we look at the waste and mismanagement from the previous Labor government, it is absolutely imperative that we honour that commitment to the Australian people. We will do that in a measured way, we will do that in a sensible way and we will have a fair budget that makes the right decisions for future sustainability for the Australian people. We on this side of the chamber understand the importance of economic responsibility. We understand that to have sustainable portfolios across the government into the future—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Moore, I will not give you the call until there is silence.

Senator Moore: Mr President, I rise on a point of order: relevance. The minister has not actually answered the particular question asked by the senator, which referred to 'no cuts to health' and also to 'no new taxes'. It was a specific question, Mr President, and we would appreciate an answer to those two points.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. I cannot instruct the minister how to answer the question. The minister still has 45 seconds remaining to address the question.

Senator NASH: I did indicate to the chamber that we would be honouring our election commitment and I also indicated to the chamber—for senators on the other side—that we will be honouring our election commitment to ensure that we provide a budget for this nation that ensures the future of this nation is sustainable. I know those on the other side do not want to hear—

Senator Moore: Mr President, I rise on a point of order: relevance. I would ask you to draw the attention of the minister to the question, which was specifically about 'no cuts to health' and also 'no new taxes'. The answer has not been provided.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. The minister has 20 seconds remaining.

Senator NASH: As I have indicated to the chamber, we will be honouring our election commitment. At this point in time, we have a nation that is in an economic mess and the commitment that this government made to the Australian people is to fix it.









Senator McLUCAS (Queensland) (14:04): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Does the minister back the assertion by the Prime Minister's handpicked adviser Tony Shepherd that Australians visit the doctor 11 times a year and, as he said, 'I just don't think we're that crook'? Why is the government relying on dodgy data to introduce a GP tax on taking your sick child to the doctor?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Health) (14:05): I am not going to speculate on the budget. But I will inform the chamber that it is this government, this side of the chamber that has a focus on future health delivery in a sustainable way for this nation. We only have to look at the previous—

Senator Moore: Mr President, I rise on a point of order: relevance. This point of order is fairly straight forward. There was a particular question on a statement made about going to the doctor 11 times and also about the data on which that statement was made. It was not speculation about the budget.

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! The minister still has 38 seconds remaining. I am listening carefully to the minister's answer. There is no point of order at this stage.

Senator NASH: It is this government that has a much greater focus on the ability of families to be able to attend medical practitioners, to get proper health services, unlike the previous government that was so focused on bureaucracy and duplication. We are focused on delivering health care in a sustainable way—

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! On my right and on my left.

Senator Moore: Mr President, I rise on a point of order: relevance. We now have 13 seconds left to go and we still do not have a specific answer to our question. I would ask you to draw the minister's attention to the question.

The PRESIDENT: There is still no point of order at this stage. The minister has 13 seconds remaining.

Senator NASH: Unlike those opposite, it is this side of the chamber that is focused on people and families being able to get the level of health care they deserve, unlike those opposite who are caught up in bureaucracy and duplication. (Time expired)









Senator McLUCAS (Queensland) (14:07): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I refer to the Prime Minister's pre-election promise that this government 'will do what we have said we will do'. Why is this government breaking this promise and introducing a tax that means that Medicare will be for people who can afford it rather than people who need it? How can the Australian people trust anything that this Prime Minister says?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Health) (14:07): I am not going to speculate on the budget. What I will say about the budget is that this government will deliver a budget that does the right thing for the future of this nation. This government will deliver a budget that ensures sustainability into the future, particularly in my area of health. On this side of the chamber this government understands that we need to make hard decisions, and those people out in the community elected us last year to ensure that we fix the economic mess that was left to us by those opposite. We did not create this economic mess—

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Nash is entitled to be heard in silence.

Senator NASH: We did not create the economic mess that this country is in but we will take the responsibility to fix it. The Australian people know that and that is why they elected us.