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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11562

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (14:41): My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister confirm that it is still the Abbott-Turnbull government's policy to increase the cost of medicine by up to $50 for pensioners this year?

Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:41): I thank the honourable member for her question. While I could not hear precisely the last few words of it, can I simply say that the government's policies are unchanged. Our policies will change often in the face of inability to get them through the Senate, and we will negotiate—and you have seen examples of that—and policies are reviewed and reconsidered. But all of our existing policies and proposals—whether they are before this House or in policy statements by ministers—remain on foot. If the honourable member is unhappy with them, as she plainly is, she should state the basis of her dissatisfaction and make a case for it.

But I want to make this very clear to the honourable member, and she has some shared responsibility for this: the budgetary situation that we were left with required the government to make some tough decisions. It required some tough decisions to be taken, and they have been taken. Not all of them have been able to secure support in the Senate. Not all of them have been popular. But bringing this budget—our budget; our nation's federal budget—back into balance over the cycle is going to be a very difficult challenge—a long-term challenge. We understand that. But honourable members opposite have got to bear in mind their share of the responsibility for this. The honourable member was sitting in this chamber when Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister and we begged him not to spend so much during the global financial crisis. We begged him not to, and he went ahead and spent so much so wastefully. He drove our budget into deficit and did so for no benefit for the Australian people or our economy, and that is the mess which we are cleaning up.