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Monday, 13 February 2012
Page: 855

Private Health Insurance

Mr DUTTON (Dickson) (14:59): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister's following statements, made when she was shadow minister for health: 'Labor is committed to the maintenance of the private health insurance rebate, and I have given an ironclad guarantee of that on a number of occasions.'

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Dickson will repeat the question and he will be heard in complete silence.

Mr DUTTON: I will just wait for the clock to restart, Mr Speaker, if I may.

The SPEAKER: The clock will restart. When the House is completely silent the member will have the opportunity to ask his question so that the Prime Minister is able to hear what he is asking, and so that she is able to be directly relevant.

Mr DUTTON: I refer to the Prime Minister's following statements, made when she was shadow minister for health, 'Labor is committed to the maintenance of the private health insurance rebate, and I have given an ironclad guarantee of that on a number of occasions.' Further: 'I grow tired of saying this. Labor is committed to the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate.' When can the Australian people expect the Prime Minister to stand by any of her ironclad commitments?

Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:59): I thank the member for his question because it enables me to explain something he clearly has missed. There are elections in Australia generally once every three years. We had one in 2007 and we had one in 2010. I am surprised the member does not have any recollection of the 2010 election; it is the one where he was scrambling for a new seat. In that election we took to the Australian people a policy on private health insurance, and the legislation that is in this parliament reflects that policy which we took to the Australian people. Let us not have any of this absurdity from the opposition. We, in 2010, took to the Australian people a very simple proposition about fairness. We said with the growth in health costs and with the need to keep finding more money to meet the needs of health care in our nation as our population ages and as health treatments get more sophisticated—which is a great thing, but they also get more expensive—that we would need to make sure—

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will resume her seat as there is a point of order.

Dr Southcott: Mr Speaker, a point of order on relevance: it relates to an area of the Prime Minister's responsibility. This was a promise at the 2007 election and Labor broke that in the 2009—

The SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat and has almost gone out under 94(a).

Ms GILLARD: We went to the 2010 election saying that with these healthcare costs—as a simple proposition of fairness—someone who is earning $300,000 a year does not need a young apprentice, a worker in a shop or a worker in a factory to subsidise his or her health insurance.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister will be heard in silence by members on both sides of the House.

Ms GILLARD: That is the fairness proposition we are bringing to this parliament. Those opposite are full of huff and puff now about private health insurance, but I wonder what is going to be their policy going to the 2013 election, because not one of them has said that they will put this private health insurance rebate back if this parliament changes it. Huff and puff now and then come the election, because they are in such a desperate fiscal mess with the incompetence of their economic team—they know they are $7 billion behind the starting line for surplus—

The SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Dawson will remove himself under provisions of standing order 94(a).

The m ember for Dawson then left the chamber.

Ms GILLARD: They will give it a very big tick. If we want to go back to the 2007 election and compare the record, that is the one in which the Leader of the Opposition was campaigning on an emissions trading scheme and carbon price. Who is not telling the truth now?

The SPEAKER: The member for North Sydney will remove himself under standing order 94(a).

Mr Hockey interjecting

The SPEAKER: Because I have said that the Prime Minister would be heard in silence and the member did not observe my ruling in that respect.

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, on that ruling can I point out that there was a cacophony of noise coming from this side of the chamber to which the member for North Sydney was simply responding.

The member for North Sydney then left the chamber

The SPEAKER: I am not going to revisit that. If the member does not want to follow his colleague he will sit down. The member for Shortland has the call.