Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Matters of Public Importance
I rise to speak on today's MPI. One thing I remember Kim Beazely said many years ago was: we have got our version and you have got yours. I think we are hearing a bit of that today. We are hearing the version of those opposite who have left us in a situation where the current health system is not sustainable in its current format. We as a government were not elected to keep those opposite's budget going, we were elected to make changes and that is what we are going to do to fix the budget and to invest in medical research for better health care in the future. I cannot see how that is possibly hurting Australian people.
This government is doing exactly what we were elected to do—that is, clean up those opposite's mess by developing and implementing a budget that puts Australia back on a sustainable path to surplus while investing in key areas such as health, education, infrastructure, and the many welfare measures the government has in place.
What those opposite have failed to realise after six years of being in government is that the answer to everything is not simply throwing money at it without a long-term policy framework that is appropriately costed. It is the opposition's lack of strategy and vision and their inability to manage minor projects, let alone Australia's entire economy, that has forced this government to make decisions and reign in unsustainable spending levels.
I see the Minister for Communications is in the chamber. He has just received the report that describes the inability of the previous government to deliver economic infrastructure or any other budgetary decisions. We will be waiting centuries before we ever get a surplus from those opposite.
When it comes to health, education, infrastructure, and many other policy initiatives, those opposite simply do not have a leg to stand on. Let us not forget Labor's attempts to roll out their $650-million GP Super Clinics project, where 64 Clinics were promised in 2007, and, by the time they were booted from government, only 33 had been delivered. Of course, if those opposite want to attack this government's record on health, I should also mention the Labor government's repeated promise that they would not change the private health insurance rebate yet they means tested the rebate in 2009 and 2011 and removed the 30 per cent rebate on lifetime health cover in 2012 after they had repeatedly promised they would not.
The reality is that under the Labor government Australia was progressively living beyond its means, which led to every taxpayer being faced with billions in deficits that are projected to rise to $667 billion if we do not fix the unsustainable spending path those opposite put us on.
The pressure on Medicare, the PBS and public hospitals continues to increase each year due to Australia's ageing population, chronic disease and higher costs. What this government is simply asking is that all Australians contribute to our health system by making modest contributions to the costs of their care. Those opposite have repeatedly attacked the introduction of a GP co-payment—a payment that actively invests in finding cures for diseases through a $20-billion medical research future fund. Of course those opposite would be against this when they ripped $140 million out of medical research last year by tricky accounting in the budget.
Instead, this government is investing in the health of every Australian while still maintaining safety nets for those who may struggle to afford the payment including concession-card patients and kids under 16 years, who will only have to pay the contribution for their first 10 visits a year before reverting back to the bulk-billing system. We consider this is a fair contribution from patients to help support a system that currently funds 263 million free Medicare services a year.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is another area where those opposite have no credibility, with medications for patients suffering from schizophrenia, chronic disabling pain and lung disease amongst others delayed for months under Labor when they deferred the listing of medicines already recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. An example in my electorate was a young lad called Christian Dierkxon. He was one of only 10 people in Australia to have Hunter's disease. After pressure from his local member to get him onto a life-saving drug program, the child moved into my electorate. Even with pressure from two members and the media, it still took the Labor government 12 months to get him onto a life-saving drug program. Labor have no record of worrying about people in health. They have no record economically. What they should be doing is voting for this to make sure that we keep a sustainable Medicare system and take the concerns of the health of Australian people into the future.