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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5187

Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (12:26): I would like to hear from the minister the justification for spending $10 million over the next two years to deliver a national communications campaign to inform Australians about the benefits of Medicare and health related services. Medicare is a long-established scheme and has been running since 1984. There is strong community support for Medicare. There is strong bipartisan support for Medicare. Medicare was greatly expanded during the previous coalition government in the areas of mental health and team care arrangements. I would like to hear the minister's justification—in a budget which is an emergency budget with a massive budget deficit—for funding a national information campaign including information products and a website to provide detailed information to consumers and health professionals about the affordability and accessibility of Medicare, which has been running since 1984.

I also want to ask: what is the rationale behind spending $6½ million over the next four weeks of this campaign, and $3½ million in 2013-14? Firstly, regarding the $6½ million that is meant to be spent between now and 30 June, what sort of advertising all this money be spent on? What will $6½ million get in less than one month? How can the department possibly have $6½ million in advertising drawn up, designed, produced and advertised in the three weeks remaining before 30 June? What information products are being produced using this $10 million, and will they all be distributed by 30 June 2013?

Regarding the $3½ million, which is budgeted to be spent in the 2013-14 financial year, what date is this money due to be spent by? How much of it will be spent by 12 August? How much of it will be spent by 14 September? Is it planned for any of this $3½ million to be spent after 14 September? I would appreciate an answer from the minister.

The consideration in detail is a process we have been going through since 2008. The previous minister did not always come along, but when she did she answered the questions. Actually she sent Mark Butler, and he answered the questions on her behalf. I have not before seen a minister just sit and listen and have no answers on her own budget. So I would appreciate an answer from the minister.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The standing orders specify five-minute contributions. There is nothing in the standing orders that formalises the question-and-answer process. It is not question time.