Tuesday, 23 June 2015
Matters of Public Importance
Health and Education Funding
It is certainly a privilege for humble me to offer some words of wisdom in this matter of public importance discussion after hearing from 'Australia's greatest Treasurer'! There is a saying by Winston Churchill:
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
What we have here really is a lie—the opposition trying to tell the Australian people that the federal government is seriously considering walking away from funding health and education. That is just a nonsense. This MPI should actually be about the previous government cutting funding for health and education, not the current government. I will explain why. A nation is healthy when its balance sheet is healthy. You need to understand that, when we have a strong economy, then we have the ability to build a society that we want to live in. If you look at countries across the world that have strong economies, you see life expectancy that is longer and you see better opportunities for their children. It is simply ignorant of the real world to not have that basic understanding.
A strong economy does certainly invest in education. A strong economy does certainly invest in our children. But a strong economy also understands the different levels of government and how to best make those interact. I look at health—and I have an area that I represent that does have some poorer health outcomes—and I see that our government has made some significant advances in immunisation and trying to get the Australian population immunised. I see that Headspace has been opened up, in the area of mental health, to help our young teenagers as they walk through the struggle of life. I see preventative health initiatives, encouraging people to eat some of the fresh food that Australian farmers grow. It saddens me that we have not educated our population more about how to eat healthily. I see reforms, where we have moved away from Medicare Locals into Primary Health Networks, which are going to deliver better outcomes in our communities. I see medicines—and this government has not walked away from pharmacists but has actually delivered a very good outcome for pharmacists so that they can provide medicines for our population. I look at our aged-care facilities and I look at our Medical Research Future Fund. We understand that there are big challenges to face as we address an ageing population. We understand that these challenges have to be tackled and they have to be discussed intellectually, not with grandstanding over white papers and grandstanding over hypothecation.
We are only 12 months out, perhaps, from an election, and yet the opposition are not providing an alternative government to the Australian people. They need to do the legwork if they expect to be a legitimate challenger come the next election. I look at education, and it is not just a case of chucking money at it. If you talk to people in schools, you will realise that there are three things that are important to a strong education. One is the home life. If the parents take an interest in a child's education, it is a big advancement for them. Another is the culture of the school. I have got country schools that are struggling to have great buildings but they have a strong culture. The third thing is the facilities. When we look at education, it is more holistic than simply throwing money at it. But we do need to have a strong economy so we can build a stronger society.
Labor in this instance are failing to take the opportunity for leadership. The MPI should be a chance for them, this close out from an election, to start to lay out their vision so that they can prove to the Australian people that they are an alternative government. What we are saying is: the Federation in its current form is broken. If you go into my electorate, nothing frustrates people more than to hear state governments blaming federal governments, and federal governments blaming local governments. They just want to see service delivered. The first premise is: the closer you are to the delivery of the service, the more efficient the spend. If our state governments can administer hospitals, if our state governments can administer policing, if our state governments can deliver health and if our local governments can deliver local roads, and the federal government can provide the strategy and the defence, then this is what a good Federation should be made up of. This government is prepared to tackle the hard questions. That is why the Australian people will vote for us again. You guys are missing an opportunity in this MPI to put your vision forward.