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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6114


Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (11:14): I'm pleased to speak today on how the Turnbull government is starving essential services and abrogating fundamental responsibilities in order to fund their deeply flawed, neo-conservative, trickle-down economic agenda. In fact, I'll take any opportunity to highlight the brazen heist on our national budget that is being undertaken in broad daylight by this government. It was not so long ago that Liberal ministers and backbenchers couldn't make it through five minutes without screeching about the debt and deficit disaster. They are very quiet on that front now, and I'll tell you why. It is because their shameful mismanagement of the economy has resulted in our national debt crashing through half a trillion dollars. That's an unimaginable figure for most Australians. A more sensible group of leaders would see reason for caution and for constraint, but not this government. No, this hasn't stopped them at all. In fact, if anything, they have renewed their zeal to hand over as much wealth as possible to the top end of town as quickly as they possibly can.

The 2018 budget gives billions of dollars in tax cuts to big business, multinationals, the banks and high-income earners. It makes Australians pay for that with savage cuts into health, education and vital public services. Meanwhile, it launches a radical overhaul of Australia's income tax system, which would see a carer on $40,000 pay the same rate of tax as a lawyer on $200,000. On every single measure, everyday Australians miss out. On every single metric, the government utterly fails the test of fairness. It fails the test of fairness on pensioners. Mr Turnbull is cutting the energy supplement, which is costing pensioners—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Rob Mitchell ): The member for Parramatta will refer to members by their correct titles.

Ms CLAYDON: The Prime Minister and his government is cutting the energy supplement, which is costing pensioners $14 a fortnight. At the same time, they are forcing people to stay in the workforce until they're 70 years of age. The budget fails the fairness test on education. The government is still cutting $17 billion from our schools. In my electorate of Newcastle, public schools are losing an average of $350,000 both this year and next year alone. The budget locks in $2.2 billion worth of cuts to universities and levies $270 million in new cuts to TAFE. We haven't forgotten the previous cuts to TAFE, but these are additional cuts.

The budget also fails the fairness test on hospitals, cutting $2.8 billion out. This means surgeries get delayed, nurse and doctor numbers will decline and emergency wait times will increase. In Newcastle, we're losing close to $10 million from our public hospitals in 2017-20. The budget fails the fairness test on child care, with 279,000 families set to be worse off under the government's new childcare policy. The budget fails the fairness test on Medicare. The Prime Minister's freeze on the rebate for specialists means Australians will pay even more when they visit a doctor. The budget fails the fairness test on vital public services, with 1,200 jobs set to go from Centrelink. Yes, that is the same organisation that has outlandish wait times and unanswered calls because of previous cuts to staff and resources.

The budget also tragically fails our national broadcaster, with the ABC set to lose a further $127 million as a result of the Liberal government's war on public broadcasting. This is on top of the $254 million in cuts that were imposed since 2014. That was a cut acutely felt in my region with our ABC radio, 1233 AM, losing 12 members of staff and lots of local content in the last round of cuts.

Even the Turnbull government's budget centrepiece is nothing but a cruel hoax designed to hide the fact that they are doing absolutely nothing for older Australians. The 14,000 in-home care packages for four years are funded by cuts into residential aged care, and they won't go anywhere near fixing the atrocious wait list of 105,000 older Australians who currently cannot access the care they need and deserve. There is an alternative, and Labor has made that vision very clear for Australians. You can have a Labor government that puts people and the services they need first or you can have more of the same from the Turnbull Liberal government. That government is about cuts, cuts and cuts and favours to the big end of town. (Time expired)