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Thursday, 24 May 2018
Page: 4617


Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (16:02): Budgets are about government priorities. Certainly in this budget, what we've seen is that there is no priority for health in this country. This government would rather give an $80 billion tax cut to the top end of town than look after people who require knee replacements, hip replacements and proper health services. We know that there is absolutely no increase in public hospital funding. The budget actually locks in the $715 million in cuts from the 2014 budget that the Abbott government brought down in 2014. The $715 million in cuts are still there. This means people in my electorate will have to wait longer and longer for knee replacements, for hip replacements, to see a specialist, to see their local GP and they'll have to pay more in co-payments towards their Medicare costs. That is what it means for those people.

The Turnbull government is continuing those cuts from 2014. For South Australia this budget means a shortfall of $12 million—$3.6 million for the Royal Adelaide Hospital, $5 million for the Flinders Medical Centre, $1.8 million for the Women's and Children's Hospital and $1.5 million for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, an iconic hospital in the western suburbs that serves a lot of the people in my electorate. This $12 million cut to hospitals serving the people of South Australia and Adelaide and my electorate is equivalent to an additional 33 nurses that could have been provided instead of cutting. It's nearly 18,000 extra people in emergency department visits and 29,000 outpatient visits. That's what it means for the people in my electorate of Hindmarsh. These cuts to health and hospitals are hurting everyday Australians across the country. All you have to do is look at the record of this government. The cost of seeing a doctor is the highest on record. The average waiting time for elective surgery is the longest on record. The number of hospital beds available for elderly Australians is the lowest on record, under this government's watch.

This government, as we all know, has also taken the axe to Medicare. I say this because you can go back and dress it up and paint it in any way you like—the government tries to describe us when we were campaigning on Medicare. The reality and the facts are that in 2013 when they won government, after promising not to cut a single cent from health, the first thing they did was try and introduce the co-payment. They pushed and pushed. They couldn't get it through. They tried again in the coming budget. Again they failed, so they tried to do the sneaky thing, and that was to put a freeze on payments to doctors. That is reality. That is not a furphy. That is not something that didn't take place. That is the reality, and that's where the Australian public lost confidence in this government when it comes to Medicare. We have a proud record on Medicare. Each and every one of us on this side pledged to protect Medicare. We've got that proud record because we introduced Medicare. We are the founders of Medicare. We believe in public health and we believe in a universal healthcare system.

In this budget, we know that another 1.7 million people say that they will skip seeing a specialist because of the current cuts and the costs that are involved. This has a devastating impact on many people, particularly older Australians in my electorate. If you want me to go to older Australians not in my electorate but across the country, we have seen one of the biggest con jobs on older Australians by this government. What we saw was 14,000 new places for people in aged care in terms of packages and we have 100,000 people on waiting lists, and it's growing by 20,000 every six months. What a con job!

Labor in government will fully reverse the government's cuts, by investing an extra $2.8 billion. This record investment will reduce emergency department and elective surgery waiting times, not bring those elective surgery waiting times up as will happen under this government and is already happening. It's also going to give more than 3,000 doctors, nurses and other hospital staff, and many who live in my electorate of Hindmarsh, the resources that they need to deliver the best care possible. We are proud of Medicare on this side of the House. We are proud that it was the Labor government that implemented Medicare. We are proud to continue to protect Medicare from the cuts that this government wants to bring. (Time expired)