Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1705 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
It requires more than money to fix the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but a 10 per cent increase in funding would cost only $80 million and would go some way to redressing the significant underfunding of primary health care services.
Recently we had a debate about access to primary health care for people on low incomes in our city with the closure of the city practice that bulk billed. This is a serious social justice and public health issue. It is also an economic issue. If you do not have access to primary health care services, then you lose the opportunity to prevent more serious illness from occurring. It does not make any sense on a social level or an economic level.
For the environment there are quite serious inadequacies in the budget, which is not surprising. In the current year, $211 million or 15 per cent of proposed spending by the Howard government on the environment has been moved out. Other cuts include biodiversity, $67 million; sustainable land use, $122 million in 2002-03 on top of the $84 million underspending this year; and the national action plan on salinity, $150 million over four years.
There is a massive increase in spending on border protection, the detention centre on Christmas Island and the Pacific solution, which are being given top priority by this government. Other members have spoken to this. The Greens have consistently expressed concerns about this ill-thought response to the problems of violence and fundamentalist responses and reactions to poverty and inequality. It is totally consistent with this federal government's manipulation of circumstances that they continue to push this as a means of giving us security in this country.
It is important to discuss what security means. Is security about feeling that you can trust your government, trust the police and feel secure to express your points of view? We have the right of dissent in this country-or we thought we did. Some of us are proud of it and some of us are fearful about the federal government's willingness to diminish that right of dissent. Surely security is about feeling secure that the government is in charge of, and responsible for, federal policy and understands its obligations to the citizens of Australia in a comprehensive way.
It was interesting to hear a UK conservative politician on Foreign Correspondent last night discussing UK treatment of asylum seekers who enter Britain. They are looking at housing these people in a country town. This conservative politician clearly recognised that they had human rights obligations which meant they could not just lock these people up. As a country we claim in some debates to care about children and the rights of children, but that seems to have gone by the by.
MR SPEAKER: Order! The member's time has expired.
MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services and Minister for the Arts) (11.50): One distinguished commentator said of this federal budget that it is really Mr Howard's budget. That the case. I give the current national Treasurer, Peter Costello, more credit than to think he would bring down a budget like this.