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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11560


Ms KING (Ballarat) (14:34): My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm that it is still the Liberal government's policy to continue its GP tax by cutting $2 billion in Medicare rebates?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:34): I thank the honourable member for her question. The focus of questions seems to be entirely on the 2014 budget, which, while a matter of keen interest, no doubt, you would imagine the opposition would be focused more on this year's budget or, indeed, possibly leading into next year's budget. Can I just say that all of these questions relating to spending, whether it is in terms of social welfare transfer payments or health, have to be seen in this context: it is absolutely critical for the security of our economy, for the prosperity of our economy and for the jobs of the future to ensure that the government lives within its means.

Ms King interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Ballarat has asked her question. Do not interject.

Ms King interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Ballarat will cease interjecting.

Mr TURNBULL: The Labor Party inherited a budget that was in surplus. It inherited cash at the bank. It went on a spending spree that created, as honourable members know very well, a massive structural deficit which could not even be funded out of a cyclical surplus at the time of a commodities boom.

Mr Burke: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on direct relevance. The question had no preamble. It is very specifically on the Medicare rebate and on the GP tax—very specifically.

Mr Champion interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Wakefield is warned!

Mr TURNBULL: I again thank the honourable member for the question. The fact of the matter is, as she well knows, that this government, as indeed any responsible government would have to do, is seeking to ensure that we live within our means, that we continue to provide a generous social welfare net to those who need it, that we do so in a manner that restores the budget to balance over the cycle and that we do so in a manner that ensures the economy can grow to deliver the jobs and opportunity upon which our prosperity and, may I say so, the revenues which enable the social welfare safety net. All of that depends on growth. It depends on responsible budget management. It depends on governments making tough and careful decisions to ensure that we get the best outcome from the public's expenditure. That is what we will seek to do. If the opposition wants to be credible on this issue, what it should be doing is presenting its plans to pay for the cuts that it does not approve of and to pay for the spending that it proposes. It fails to do that and, in doing so, undermines the credibility of every claim and every question. Government cannot any longer be a 'spendathon'. That was the Labor way. It is a way to ruin.