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Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Page: 2420


Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South WalesParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services) (15:11): Following on from what I can only describe as the hypocrisy of those opposite after the mess that Labor left us in health after six years in government, I would like to go to some of the more stark examples of what Labor's health mess was. I would remind those opposite of the words of Kevin Rudd back in August 2007:

When it comes to improving Australia's health and hospital system, as Prime Minister if elected, the buck will stop with me.

He said that the Rudd Labor government would seek to take financial control of Australia's 750 public hospitals if state and territory governments had failed to agree to a national health reform plan. He said that the blame game would end under him. But what did we see in these six years under Labor? We saw this so-called health reform. All that was really about was 'Dr' Rudd and 'Nurse' Roxon madly rushing from hospital to hospital around this countryside, dressed in white gowns, taking photo opportunity after photo opportunity, so it could all be posted on the MyHospitals website. One only has to listen to Ms Roxon's description of some of those visits to know just how stage-managed they all were. That is the legacy of those opposite.

We had the 10 new agencies—the new bodies under Labor, which diverted resources away from the front end, away from benefiting patients—and a whole lot of new bureaucracy so that the health portfolio ballooned by 27 per cent. And of course there were those famous GP superclinics. This is yet another example of Labor's waste and mismanagement, part of the mess they left us in health. Labor pumped $650 million into this ill-conceived program and at the same time pulled money from other areas of health, including subacute beds in public hospitals. Seven years after these so-called superclinics were promised, some are still not opened or even operational. The superclinic idea was all about helping Labor's candidates in marginal seats. It certainly was not about the patients. For many communities, the so-called 'superclinics'—and I put 'super' in inverted commas—remain nothing more than a dream in the distance. So our objective is to clean up Labor's mess. We will methodically assess Labor's programs and failures and make appropriate decisions about them.

Can I for the record correct Senator McLucas's incorrect comments in relation to Medicare Locals. Former Chief Medical Officer Professor John Horvath has carried out a review of Medicare Locals for the government and his report has been presented to the Minister for Health. The findings of that review are currently confidential and any release of that report will be a decision of the government. Of course, like many issues in the health portfolio, the review may be considered in the context of the budget and announcements may be made at an appropriate time. This is Labor's record on health, so it is sheer hypocrisy for Senator McLucas to come into this place and give us a lesson about health given the abysmal and appalling record that they left us in health.

I will make some general comments in relation to the Rudd-Gillard government's six years of chaos, waste and mismanagement, where they delivered higher taxes, record boat arrivals and debt and deficit as far as the eye can see. Labor inherited $20 billion in surplus. They have forgotten how to spell surplus, it has been so long since they last had a surplus. I think 1989 was the last time that Labor delivered a surplus to the Australian public, and they then left a projected $50 billion deficit—$50 billion in the bank projected into debt, well over $200 billion. This is the legacy of the mess that Labor left us. (Time expired)