Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Page: 2422


Senator O'SULLIVAN (Queensland) (15:21): This is only my second speech in the Senate and I approach it with some trepidation. But I would like to thank the opposition for choosing the topic of broken promises, in particular broken promises in the area of health, because it has made my job just that much easier. Under Labor, we saw the health bureaucracy balloon while public hospitals, private health insurance, dental and other areas were cut. We saw $4 billion cut from private health insurance and $1 billion cut from dental health.

It should have come as no surprise to us, because in the area of promises we had a promise from the Labor government to indicate that they would be fiscal conservatives. They took a cash surplus legacy left to them in 2006-07 and took it to a $192 billion debt. One can only imagine what could have been done in the area of health services had that money being dedicated into that area, which it was not—it competed with reductions. Or, indeed, there are the $1 billion in debt payments that are made here on a monthly basis. That borrowing was an increase of 400 per cent in the first two years, and the borrowing in that area increased by 100 per cent each year. So in less than three years Labor borrowed $147,000 million which could have been put into health and we would not have any challenges to our spending program at the moment. Labor have shown me that they know more about tonight's budget than I do. It will be an interesting discussion tomorrow morning if some of the statements they have made in this place and outside this place do not come to fruition.

One of the things that is necessary for any government to be able to maintain the services they want to in meeting their duty of care to their constituency is to ensure that they have a strong economy. I am happy to have a discussion with the opposition, or anybody, in relation to the economic performance of a conservative government. The previous government under Howard and Costello inherited a debt of $96 billion and were able to dispose of that over the term of their government, leaving us at the time with a cash surplus, if my memory serves me correctly, in the order of $45 billion when Labor took over.

To keep health services well funded, one must be able to operate surpluses. If Labor want to talk about promises, let us talk about the promises of the surplus indicated for 2008-09—where we ended up with a $27 billion deficit. In 2009-10 we were promised that saving decisions would set us up on the path to surplus for 2015-16. Of course, we all know what the deficit is for 2015-16.

They talked about a strategy that would see the budget returned to surplus in three years' time. That statement was made in 2010-11. Well, in the three years' time the deficit was $47 billion. So it is appropriate to have a conversation about promises—promises on any level. The measures that might have to be taken in the budget today will be as the direct result of failed financial management over a long period of time. This was from a government that was headed by someone who I remember from one night when I had to rewind on my television—I heard Kevin Rudd indicate to Australians that he was a 'fiscal conservative'. I watched him with great interest from that period of time.

I think that there is quite a deal of hypocrisy for the opposition to start pre-empting an attack on our government, on the coalition, in terms of the management repairs that they have to do into the future. Might I end by saying that there was a wonderful saying by Walter Kirn in relation to hypocrisy:

Everyone loves a witch hunt as long as it's someone else's witch being hunted.