Government's cuts to schools and hospitals in Queensland

27 October 2014

Speech on a motion moved by the Member for Ryan

Dr CHALMERS (Rankin) (10:44):  In almost two decades of political activism and involvement, I do not think I have seen a more misleading motion than this one, and I stand up to oppose it. It takes a certain level of dishonesty and deceitfulness and doublespeak to move a motion claiming increased funding for schools, hospitals and infrastructure while simultaneously crowing about savings to the very same areas. For the member for Ryan, the forehead-slap moment will come when she realises you cannot claim extra spending and savings in the same areas simultaneously.

It was very cruel of the Treasurer not to point out to the member for Ryan that this government's own budget papers make the brutal cuts to schools and hospitals very, very clear. In discussing cuts to schools and hospitals, page 7 of the budget overview states:

These measures will achieve cumulative savings of over $80 billion by 2024-25.

These are not figures that the opposition has made up; they are there in black and white in the government's very own budget overview. The member for Ryan should read it. That fact alone torpedoes the claims upon which this dishonest and dishonourable and deceitful motion is built. The fact is that schools and hospitals around Australia will get $80 billion less in funding from this government than they would have got had Labor been re-elected. So it takes a great deal of duplicity for the member for Ryan to get up here and congratulate the government on the budget's funding of schools and hospitals.

Schools in my own area will be some of the worst affected. There are 27,500 kids who will cop funding cuts to the tune of $230 million over the next 10 years. The $30 billion cut to schools across Australia over the next decade is the same as cutting every seventh teacher. Parents, students and teachers in my community cannot afford this government's harsh cuts to education and schools. They certainly cannot afford the cuts to public hospitals either.

I had the pleasure recently of inspecting the Logan Hospital's brand-new emergency department and paediatric wing. The $175 million Logan Hospital redevelopment project was proudly funded by the last Labor government because Labor understands the importance of having a modern and well-funded public hospital system. This stands in stark contrast to the government, who will pull $50 billion—it is in their own budget papers—out of hospitals across Australia over the next decade.

The Metro South Health network which serves the people of my electorate will miss out on $26 million just over the next four years, with far more cuts to come in the years after that. At the same time, the government is charging people more to access basic health services and imaging services, with people in my electorate set to pay nearly $8½ million every year on the GP tax alone. Just a few weeks ago, we heard startling evidence from the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association that sick people will need to pay hundreds and even thousands to diagnose their conditions. Bills of this magnitude will be such a blow to people who are suffering from life-threatening diseases. With so many people being targeted by the budget, it is sickening to observe the backslapping and self-congratulation of government members in this motion.

Their record on infrastructure is not much better, with most of their achievements nothing more than the re-announcement of Labor commitments. And no discussion of infrastructure is complete without mentioning the NBN, which has been stripped and pared back till it is a fragment of Labor's original fibre-fuelled nation-building vision for the program.

The Prime Minister and Premier Newman are as one when it comes to hacking, slashing and cutting the services my community needs and our country needs. The only good news is that Queenslanders will get the opportunity to voice and vent their fury within the next six months. I urge the good people of my electorate to send Premier Newman and Prime Minister Abbott a message by supporting our fantastic local candidates, my friends Linus Power in Logan, Leeanne Enoch in Algester, Mick de Brenni in Springwood, Shannon Fentiman in Waterford, Duncan Pegg in Stretton and Cameron Dick in Woodridge.

This government, the LNP and the member for Ryan cannot be serious when they boast about their achievements in schools, hospitals and infrastructure. They should stop treating Queenslanders as mugs. We know that serious nation-building infrastructure like the NBN is worse off as a result of this government; we know that our schools are worse off as a result of this budget; we know that our hospitals will be worse off as a result of this budget; and no amount of dishonest, deceitful, dishonourable motions will camouflage those facts, as laid out so starkly in the pages of their own budget.