Tuesday, 26 June 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, Senator McKenzie. Can the minister outline to the Senate how the Turnbull government's record investment in hospitals across Australia is benefitting patients within my home state of Queensland?
Yes, Senator, I can. I'm proud to be part of the government who is absolutely committed to bringing the budget back into balance and whose track record on economic growth has seen one million new jobs created since coming into government. It's because of the coalition's strong economic management that we've been able to deliver the essential services in health that all Queenslanders rely on. Commonwealth funding in public hospitals in Queensland has increased from $2.7 billion, when we came to government, to $6.5 billion in 2024-25, which is a 145 per cent increase over that period.
We put forward a generous offer to states and territories. We've committed an additional $30 billion for public hospitals. That equates to millions of new hospital services each year for Australian patients, and in our public hospitals, and thousands of new frontline doctors and nurses. Under the new deal, Queensland will receive an additional $7.5 billion over five years for public hospital services and that's an increase of over 34 per cent. Three Labor and three Liberal governments have signed on but, unfortunately, the Queensland state Labor government has not. This is despite that every year there would be a record funding amount in each and every state and territory meaning more doctors, more nurses and more services for the patients of Longman. Like any Labor politician, Annastacia Palaszczuk is putting politics ahead of patients and turning her back on more than $7.5 billion in additional funding for Queensland patients.
The Turnbull government has a track record of delivering a stronger economy, enabling us to deliver those essential health services that Australians deserve and expect, including drug and alcohol support services in Longman. Earlier this month we were able to announce $11 million to boost drug and alcohol support services in Caboolture and the Bribie Island region. This will increase detox and rehabilitation services, including services specific to the treatment of ice addiction. This funding will save lives, keep families together and create a safer community. It means that Longman residents can have access to services closer to home rather than travelling to Brisbane for help. Unlike Labor's promises, this funding will start flowing next month. This is part of our broader $713 million investment to reduce the impact of drug and alcohol misuse on individuals, families and communities.
On Friday we heard Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten get caught out by Patsy from Caboolture on 4BC with Ben Davis, lying to listeners about access to cancer treatment in the Moreton Bay region. Patsy really set him straight on the issue. Shorten was claiming that patients in Longman had to drive to Brisbane to access essential chemo treatment that, according to Patsy, the local in this conversation—
I will withdraw that statement, and you can look at the transcript of the interview on my Facebook page after question time. I'm not calling him a liar; Patsy from Caboolture did. In terms of accessing chemo treatment, it's actually available in Nambour. According to Patsy, there are services available down the road, in Redcliffe.
Mr President, I would ask for you to look into the matter of whether advertising web pages is appropriate during question time. Senator McKenzie has stretched the boundaries of what she does on social media, even when she's chairing a committee inquiry where she's been forced to withdraw matters.
Order! While I am speaking, Senator Sterle—and on my right, the colleagues I did not have a chance to name—I'll ask for silence. I will do that, Senator Collins. It's an interesting question. I'm not, off the top of my head, familiar with the example you refer to. Senator Hanson, a point of order?
On the point of order: Mr President, you actually said that it was unparliamentary for Mr Shorten to be called a liar, although it didn't come from Senator McKenzie herself; it was basically someone else calling him that. So, in your ruling, how can that be unparliamentary?
Opposition senators interjecting—
Senator Watt interjecting—
Order! Senator Watt and others on my left, I would like to hear the point of order. That is a basic courtesy.
Senator Watt interjecting—
Senator Watt, I'm going to insist that, when I'm speaking, senators remain silent. Please extend the courtesy that all senators ask for when they're raising a point of order—to be heard in relative silence. Senator Hanson, please continue.
As I was saying, Senator McKenzie has been made to make a withdrawal of her comments. But they are not directly her comments. They have come from someone else; she's actually quoting someone else. How is that unparliamentary?
On the point of order: I asked Senator McKenzie to withdraw. She did. I heard it as a comment that she made. But I will remind senators that you can't clothe unparliamentary language with a quote from someone else if something is clearly unparliamentary. Senator Wong?
I'm sorry: I wasn't sure whether you'd ruled, but if I could make two points very briefly on the point of order—the first is that in fact your predecessor did—
Government senators interjecting—
Senator Collins, on my right there were numerous senators—I couldn't see. I'm going to ask that, while points of order are raised, a courtesy is extended to all senators. Senator Wong, please continue.
Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting—
Can I take Senator Wong's point of order and then I'll come to you, Senator Macdonald. Senator Wong was on her feet. Senator Macdonald, please resume your seat. I will come to you next. Senator Wong.
On the point of order, I think Senator Parry did, in fact, rule on this point in relation to Senator Cash's quoting of some rather unparliamentary and crude language. I think there is very clear precedent on this.
You are quite right. I'd like to familiarise myself with that. The general principle is unparliamentary language cannot be clothed in a quotation from an external source. But I will come back to the chamber on the issue Senator Collins also raised. Senator Macdonald, on a point of order.
Order! Very few people in this chamber are saintly in innocence with regard to interjections. I constantly remind all senators and single out those when they have made numerous and repeated interjections. I will call Senator McKenzie to continue her answer for the remaining 12 seconds if she wishes.
Yes, I do. Let's look at the numbers because they never lie. The Commonwealth funding to Longman has increased by 38 per cent, and the state Labor funding by four per cent. That's the truth.