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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 6841


Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (15:42): There is only one group of people you cannot trust when it comes to health—only one group—and that is this current government. I say so because, in 2013, we heard the promises of the then Prime Minister, the member for Warringah, who said: there will be no cuts to health; there will be no changes to our system; and the hospital care will be the same. And what happened? They were elected in 2013, and not long after in 2014 they cut billions of dollars from our health system—billions of dollars! The only people you cannot trust when it comes to health is this government and their backbenchers and all involved.

If it weren't for Labor's campaign on Medicare at the last federal election, these people here would have already privatised it. The only reason they haven't done it is that we campaigned against it—and you know it.

Government members interjecting

Mr GEORGANAS: You want to privatise it. You might not be saying that to the public, but, deep down in your hearts, you want to privatise Medicare. There is no doubt about it. The Australian public has one choice at these upcoming by-elections, especially in Braddon and Longman. The difference between Labor and the government couldn't be clearer: there would be more savage cuts under this government and record healthcare investment under a Labor government.

After four years of Abbott-Turnbull cuts and neglect, Australia's public hospitals are in crisis. Let's just look at my own state, South Australia. The state health minister recently signed an agreement with this federal government, which they were touting as additional money for health, expecting the public to applaud them. But this was after the Turnbull-Abbott government cut a billion dollars out of that state's health system in 2014. What a joke! This government wants applause for signing some agreement with the state government in South Australia, which is no different from stealing $50 out of their pocket and putting $20 in the other pocket and saying, 'Please, give me praise for that $20 I've just given back to you.' That's exactly what they've done. What a joke! This government and the Marshall government in South Australia are in cahoots, talking up funding increases, after this government slashed billions out of our hospital system. It's an absolute shame. This is smoke and mirrors, like most of their other policies. The Labor health spokesman in South Australia is all over this. He's exposed them for this. If you look at their last parliamentary session, you will see it. He recognised straightaway that the state Marshall government was caving in to his Liberal bosses here in Canberra in the federal government. By contrast, Labor has a proud record on public hospitals and public hospital funding. We were the architects of Medicare. They were the ones that brought it down and we brought it back in. And they'll do the same again.

The Rudd-Gillard government signed a historic national health reform agreement with the states and territories in 2011. This committed the Commonwealth to fund an equal share of efficient growth in hospitals and it was designed to end the blame game. It was designed to give the public hospitals long-term budget certainty, and it worked. Ahead of the 2013 election, again, the Liberals promised no cuts to hospitals, but we all remember the horror 2014 budget. How can you forget it? The government broke this promise. They tore up this historic agreement and cut billions from hospitals. We shouldn't be surprised because this what is they do. This government can't help themselves. They're pathologically compelled to cut from the health portfolio, whether it's public hospitals, dismantling Medicare or other health services. All they see is a pot of money they can raid, get into and then throw at the top end of town, as we've seen in the billions of dollars of tax cuts.

You can't trust a word they say on health care. They don't take it seriously. So the choice at these by-elections and at the next federal election is very clear. The choice couldn't be clearer—more savage cuts under this government, under the Liberals' record of healthcare investment, or big investment under Labor ensuring that the services that people require in my electorate and in all electorates around the country will be funded properly so people get the adequate health care that they require and the services they require. They know that, if they need to go to a hospital, if they need emergency services or if they need to see a GP, they'll be able to do so. Under this government, we will see more cuts, we will see the dismantling of Medicare, we will see a disgrace— (Time expired)