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Thursday, 4 April 2019
Page: 14860


Mr BOWEN (McMahon) (14:07): My question is to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware that the deputy secretary of economics in his own department told Senate estimates he did not find out about the government's $80 million backflip on energy payments until a colleague told him he'd heard it on the radio? Just six weeks out from an election, and with a budget that fell apart on the night it was delivered, does the Prime Minister seriously expect he can con the Australian people into forgetting the last six years of cuts and chaos?

Mr MORRISON (CookPrime Minister) (14:07): Once again, another member of the Labor Party, this time the shadow Treasurer, can't come to the dispatch box and tell the truth. He can't tell the truth about the fact that, under our government, funding for hospitals and public schools has increased by more than 60 per cent. The funding for Medicare has been increased by 27 per cent.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister will resume his seat. The member for McMahon on a point of order.

Mr Bowen: The question was about evidence at Senate estimates about the energy payment. It wasn't about the matters the Prime Minister is referring to. It is a matter of direct relevance.

The SPEAKER: I think the problem the member for McMahon has got, if I can say it as politely as I can, is that the last tagline of the question opens it right up. The Prime Minister has the call.

Mr MORRISON: Medicare funding is up by 27 per cent. Bulk-billing is at an all-time high as a result of the strong economy and the strong budget management that we have been running as a government for the last 5½ years. That strong budget management meant—from the time when I delivered last year's budget up until now—we ended the year estimated to be $10 billion better off than what we said in last year's budget. As a result, we took the decision to repeat a measure we put in place a couple of years ago which said that we would provide a one-off payment to support people on pensions—that is, the permanent welfare benefits of pensions. And that's what we decided to do. We've done it before, because we're used to actually outperforming budgets.

We took that measure forward and we then decided that we wanted to have that legislated as quickly as possible to ensure that that measure would get to those pension recipients. There was clearly a mood within this chamber that they wanted to see that extended to other benefits, and we took the practical decision, the honest decision, to do the right thing and not engage in the argy-bargy of partisanship and politics but make a practical decision to get the money to the people we wanted to get it to. We took that decision, and the entire chamber voted for it. So I thank the Leader of the Opposition, I thank my own members and I thank the crossbench for supporting the government's decision to extend that payment to all of those members who will now receive it.