Page 3484 - Week 09 - Thursday, 21 August 2008

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government, they closed 114 beds in our public hospital system. One of their election commitments—and I find it quite ironic that, in their last term in office, having closed 114 beds—

Mr Gentleman: “We promise to put them back”!

MR STANHOPE: They promise they are going to put them back. It is quite an amazing promise: “We took them out last time; we’ll forget about that.” This government has replaced them, plus some. The Liberal Party, without blushing, through their deputy leader, at a time when I think he was the opposition spokesperson on health, have committed to replacing those 100 beds at a cost of $63 million. I am not sure how he is going to pay for them. But it is one of the great ironies of this campaign that, having left us with a deficit of 114 beds as a result of their time in office, they now promise blithely, innocently and without embarrassment, it seems, to replace them—although without saying, of course, how they are going to pay for those 100 acute care beds at $63 million a year, which they have promised, and which would wipe out the surplus, and still meet all the other promises that they are making willy-nilly now. They are either promises that they have absolutely no intention of keeping because they know they cannot pay for them or they will have to drop them.

Let us hope that at some stage they are honest about this. Will they be honest enough and have the courage to say, “Well, we did promise 100 acute care beds and people within the community have probably relied on that, but that’s not a promise we intend to keep because it simply can’t be kept”? Of course, they do not say at any stage in their form, position or promise on the 100 acute care beds at $63 million, where they would be housed and what infrastructure they would be prepared to provide. They do not actually provide any capital, in terms of infrastructure and promises made.

It is an appropriate time to consider this: they have a promise on the books for 100 additional acute care beds at $63 million in recurrent costs, but they do not actually say where they would put them—which structures, which capital, what investment and what infrastructure they would fund. Of course, in their promises in relation to that, they have at no stage costed the infrastructure they would provide for the housing of those 100 beds.

As we consider, in the context of this debate, the Liberal Party’s attitude to capital, we do have to ask how they would ever pay for anything. It is quite interesting that the promises they have made today, including for the GP clinics, in relation to proposed additional expenditure just for the coming financial year, involved $61 million; the year after $132 million; by 2010-11 $156 million; and then for 2011-12 $168 million. That, of course, does not take into account the revenue that they propose to forgo. They propose to forgo, in their promises on stamp duty cuts, utility tax cuts and water abstraction charge cuts, to forgo $97 million next year, followed by a massive $218 million by 2009-10.

That is what the Liberals have promised. They are on the record as promising that they will forgo, in 2009-10, $218 million in revenue, followed the year after by $244 million, and followed the year after that by $259 million. These are Treasury costings on promises made on the record by members of the Liberal Party in the term

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