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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3486

Mr ANDREWS (3:02 PM) —I refer the Prime Minister to his election promise of August 2007 when he said:

Interviewer—Are you going to take off the rebate for private health funds, which currently the government supports—

That is the 30 per cent we are talking about.

Rudd—Absolutely not.

Will the Prime Minister now admit that the government intends to roll back the private health insurance rebate, because all Australians are paying the price for the government’s reckless spending?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —In terms of commitments to the Australian people, as the minister responsible for Work Choices in the past, I am sure that he is completely comfortable with the commitment which his party took to the election in 2004 when Work Choices was mysteriously missing from the public vocabulary of the then government as it sought re-election—and the consequences of that are known to all. I also refer to statements which were made by Tony Abbott some time ago, I think in the lead-up to the 2004 election, on medical matters and related things. There was the MedicarePlus safety net, a cast-iron commitment—the rest of that is history.

Mr Pyne —I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker, on relevance. The Prime Minister is making no attempt at all to be relevant to the question, which was about his commitments before November 2007 and which he is flagrantly disregarding.

The SPEAKER —Order! The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat. First, before I go to that point of order: the Prime Minister will refer to members by their titles even if he is quoting a document. I will listen carefully. The question went to the election commitments and I will listen carefully to the Prime Minister’s response.

Mr RUDD —Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. As I said in my answer to the earlier question, the government has suffered a $200 billion-plus revenue write-down. Those opposite may wish to take out a magic wand and wave that away. This government will take responsible decisions to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of budget discipline. That is why tough decisions have to be made.

Furthermore, I would say to those opposite that if they were faintly committed to the prospect of long-term pension reform they would need to embrace one clear concept: how is that sustainable into the future as well? If you are going to look after those people who need the greatest support from the community, the most vulnerable including single age pensioners, if you are going to embrace long-term reform to provide proper certainty and proper support for such people in the future, you have got to maintain long-term financial sustainability as well. This government does not shirk from making tough decisions in the budget, which the Treasurer will announce tonight. We are doing so in the context of a global economic recession, a $200 billion write-down of government revenue, the single largest revenue write-down in this country’s financial history. That is what we are wrestling with. Those opposite are content with one thing: playing opposition politics day in and day out.