Page 2169 - Week 07 - Thursday, 16 May 2013

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“I’ve fielded calls from women who have been broken down since they’ve learnt that their plight has not been heard,” … Terese Edwards told reporters in Canberra today.

“They were hanging onto a cliff by the skin of their fingers and they were pinning their hopes on this budget.”

Well, a Labor budget, Labor values, did not deliver for them.

The economic times require tough decisions to be made and the financial situation determines that cuts need to be made. A future coalition government will have to make cuts. In actual fact, I imagine tonight when the Leader of the Opposition outlines his speech to the nation he, too, will either endorse or foreshadow cuts. But why do those cuts need to be made? It is because of six years of a Labor government; six years of deficits; $191.7 billion. That is the kind of money that has to be accounted for by a future Liberal government.

The Consumer Health Forum chief Carol Bennett said that the heavier costs that consumers are now facing will fuel the emergence of a two-tiered health system—one for those who can afford to pay and one for those who cannot. She said:

Unfortunately there is a growing number of Australians, particularly the aged and the chronically ill, who are struggling to afford necessary medical treatment …

Medicare is already under strain. We expect to see GP bulk billing drop and even greater pressure on doctors to speed up patient consultations.

People in the ACT will feel the brunt of the federal budget when they go to a doctor, because when they go to the doctor, it is the gap, the out-of-pocket expenses, which Canberrans will now have to pay to make up for Wayne Swan’s deficit. Research conducted suggests that people who see a doctor are going to be out of pocket in excess of $40 or $50 as a result of the cuts that Wayne Swan brought down on Tuesday. They are very real costs. Here in the ACT we already know that many people avoid seeing a doctor because of the cost or because they cannot get in to see a doctor. What the government has done with regard to Medicare has made it very difficult for doctors to operate here in the ACT. There are even fewer incentives to open up a small practice and it is even more difficult, therefore, for a patient to go to see their GP.

One of the other things we are likely to see in the next year or two as a result of the budget deficit is paid parking in the parliamentary triangle. It is estimated to bring in $73.3 million. Someone who seems to have been very quiet on this is Kate Lundy; she has been MIA when it comes to this issue. I do not think I have seen her reported at all this week, let alone talking about this issue. So what is the government’s stance on this issue? How much of that $73 million is going to flow into the ACT? When is it going to be installed? There are a lot of questions about this.

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