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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 1872


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (13:52): I want to commence my contribution to this debate on the Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 2012 and the associated bills exactly where Senator Nash finished off, and that is by quoting our current Prime Minister, the leader of the Labor Party, who said this in a letter to the Hobart Mercury:

I grow tired of saying this—Labor is committed to the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate.

That was said by our Prime Minister. How can any Australian trust anything this person says? Indeed, how can any Australian, or Queenslander, accept anything any Labor Party leader says? Ms Gillard again, writing to the Courier-Mail in Queensland, responding to another letter to the editor, said:

YOUR correspondent … should have no concern that Labor will "erode" or abolish the 30 per cent government rebate for private health insurance. Labor is committed to the maintenance of this rebate and I have given an iron-clad guarantee of that on a number of occasions.

That is our Prime Minister. What an embarrassment to Australia that person is. You simply cannot believe anything she says. We all know—it is part of the lexicon now—that Ms Gillard promised, just before the people went to the polls at the last election, 'There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead.' And in a few short days that tax, which has already passed through this parliament, thanks to the Labor Party and the Greens political party, will be imposed upon all Australians—the greatest carbon tax in the world.

As my colleagues have clearly demonstrated, once you remove this rebate people will drop out of the private health insurance system and they will then rely more and more on public hospitals. I cannot talk about public hospitals elsewhere in Australia, but I can talk about the public health system in Queensland, which is an absolute shambles after practically 22 years of Labor rule in Queensland. Do not take my word for it; just go online and google 'Wikipedia Queensland Health', and you will see a litany of the way that Labor cannot run the public health system as it is. In my home town of Townsville, there is a great set of staff at the Townsville general hospital—very dedicated doctors and nurses—but there are never enough of them. And of course the nurses are not very happy because they do not get paid in Queensland because the Labor government in Queensland simply cannot even arrange the payroll for the nursing staff in Queensland Health. This is a typical Labor government administration of health, and it is a typical Labor government administration of the country's—or, in my case, the state of Queensland's—financial system.

In Queensland we had an announcement by Ms Bligh, the leader of the Labor Party there and the current—for another couple of weeks—Premier of that state, that she was going to abolish Queensland Health. She was going to get rid of it; she was going to cut it into two and restructure it. That followed the incident where a supposed Tahitian prince just cleared off with $16 million from Queensland Health. He had been rorting the system for years, but no-one in the Queensland Labor government had any idea of that. Their administration of health in Queensland is legend, and it is legendarily bad. Yet it is to this system which the current federal Labor government, which promised never to interfere with the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate, is going to send Queenslanders. This federal government, by taking away the private health insurance rebate, will indeed send more people to the public health system, which, in Queensland, is almost like sending people to their greater detriment, and, in cases where you are dealing with matters of life and death, could be sending them to a more terminal future. That is what this legislation will do.

Time is not going to allow me to go through how the public health system in Queensland will become more overtaxed as a result of this legislation. But now that I see that a number of Labor members have come into the chamber to hear me make this speech, can I just repeat again, in case they did not quite hear me before, this quotation from the Labor Party leader, and our current embarrassment of a Prime Minister, Ms Gillard, who said:

I grow tired of saying this—Labor is committed to the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate.

Can I also repeat what Ms Gillard said in responding to a letter to the editor of the Courier-Mail in my state of Queensland:

YOUR correspondent … should have no concern that Labor will "erode" or abolish the 30 per cent government rebate for private health insurance. Labor is committed to the maintenance of this rebate …

Can I repeat that, Mr President?

Labor is committed to the maintenance of this rebate …

And she goes on to say, in writing:

… I have given an iron-clad guarantee of that on a number of occasions.

Can you believe anything this Labor leader will say? Can you believe anything the Labor leader in Queensland will say when it comes to health ministers? Can you believe anything any Labor member will say? The evidence, the examples, of Labor leaders telling untruths in making commitments is legend. And I fear for my state of Queensland that the Labor leader there will be, as I speak, up in Queensland promising everything to everyone. She will be promising, probably, not to sell the railways—

Senator Furner interjecting

Senator IAN MACDONALD: And you, Senator Furner, should know. Did you agree with the sale of the railways when they promised not to do it? Of course you did. What a disgrace any Labor leader is. You simply cannot believe them.

Debate interrupted.