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Transcript of doorstop interview: Brisbane: 21 May 2015: Budget 2015; health cuts; Johnny Depp's dogs; Queensland economy

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SUBJECT/S: Budget 2015; Health cuts; Johnny Depp’s dogs; Queensland economy

CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH: I am here in Queensland today and what we have seen from the Federal Health Minister is absolute chaos when it comes to the Australian health budget.

What we have seen today is the Health Minister blow $1.3 billion in the Budget just one week after it was handed down in the Federal Parliament. Today the Health Minister has claimed that she is going to be scrapping measures that are in the Budget papers, saving that are in the Budget paper worth $1.3 billion when it comes to the cost of medicine.

What an absolute shambles. Labor has been saying for well over a year now that we will not pass the hikes in the cost of medicines and the changes to the PBS and MBS Safety Net. We have been saying that for well over a year, yet the Budget last week still included as a savings measure this $1.3 billion which today the Health Minister has said she recognises is not going to get through the Senate so she is going to abandon.

This is a Government that has already cut $60 billion when it comes to health. They cut $57 billion out of public hospitals and last week’s Budget a further $2 billion scrapping the GP After Hours Helpline, cuts to kids and veterans dental care, and cuts to the Kids Health Checks that GPs and Speech Pathologists have been undertaking for young people across the country.

REPORTER: Surely you must acknowledge though that they are trying to get a deficit down and a lot of the changes being made are to get that deficit down so you can’t just keep spending and spending?

KING: But what a shambles, what an absolute shambles. We are just over a week from the Budget. It’s not news that these measures were not going to pass the Senate. Labor has stood firm for patients because we know increasing the cost of medicine, making it harder and harder to reach the safety net for the PBS and the MBS is going to hit hard on patients, and particularly the most vulnerable.

In the Budget last week the Government said these measures would be going ahead. It means that when it comes to health, the Government is in chaos, and when it comes to this Budget, its Budget projections are now absolutely blown out of the water.

REPORTER: Speaking about projections being blown out of the water, I don’t know if you’re across what is happening in the state, the Treasurer today said the state is actually in recession and the Chamber of Commerce has come out and said that’s not the case, Does that put his credibility into question?

KING: I’ll leave comments in relation to the State of Queensland to the Queensland Treasurer and to Queensland ministers. I’m obviously here today responding to the Federal Minister for health having blown a $1.3 billion hole in the Budget today. Clearly not knowing what she is doing, out there saying one thing one day another thing the next.

The health system in Australia deserves stability. This Government is unable to provide that sort of stability. It is unable to be trusted when it comes to Medicare and the PBS.

REPORTER: Just another totally unrelated question. Johnny Depp is apparently threatening to leave Queensland after the dispute about the dogs. How important is it that he stays and do you think the Government gave a bad message to tourists and the economy that this is how we treat celebrities?

KING: It is entirely proper for a government to enforce our quarantine laws but when you’ve got a Minister of the Crown making a fool of himself, the way in which he blew this issue up, into the public domain, with his inflammatory comments, threatening to euthanise the dogs on public airwaves, Barnaby Joyce ought to be having a bit of think about how he runs these things.

It’s important our quarantine laws are adhered to, but equally it’s important we have Ministers of the Crown who actually are not someone that we ashamed of internationally.

REPORTER: How important are jobs in Queensland? Because if he goes the whole movie is over.

KING: Absolutely, it is critical for the economy here in Queensland that you continue to have the investments of the fantastic films that are made here, that you continue to have tourism. I am obviously from down south and we spend a bit of time up here on holidays and it’s a fantastic place to come. I’ve got a brother who lives here, who works here as well and it’s important that we have that investment here in

Queensland because the economy absolutely relies on it and it’s certainly not helped when you have got inflammatory ministers making those sorts of statements for the Queensland economy.

INTERVIEWER: Are you a Johnny Depp fan?

KING: You could not be, really, you could not be.