MPI – Medicare

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Mr PITT: Before I commence my contribution to the discussion on this matter of public importance, can I acknowledge the contributions of the member for Lyne and the member for Macarthur in their private lives. I think it is important to recognise the dedication they have had to the health system, as specialists, and to all those people out there who are less fortunate, who are ill and need assistance. To the member for Macarthur, in particular: as a parent who’s spent plenty of time with sick children in the rooms of a local paediatrician, I acknowledge that it’s a very difficult role and I congratulate you on the work that you have done over your lifetime.

But we are here for a political debate, obviously, and unfortunately those opposite are looking to make mileage out of things that are untrue. We know that in the 2016 campaign, the ‘Mediscare’ campaign, they quite simply made it up. They thought they could go into an election campaign and take an opportunity to scare people who were vulnerable—seniors or others concerned about their health—on something that was completely untrue. In fact, my wife got a text message on her mobile, on the day of the election, saying that we were making massive changes to Medicare.

What’s happened? Has that happened? It has not. In fact, we’ve legislated the Medicare Guarantee Act, so those opposite know there has been a piece of legislation put through this House which will guarantee Medicare—guarantee it! Yet still they sit on that side and say that there are cuts. They must be Edward Scissorhands over there—everything I hear is ‘cut, cut, cut’. The reality is that that is just not the case. We have increased federal funding for public hospitals from $13.3 billion in 2013-14 to $22.7 billion in 2020-21. That’s a 70 per cent increase.

A government member interjecting

Mr PITT: I’ll take that interjection—it’s a reverse cut. I’m fairly confident that 70 per cent is bigger than 10 per cent, bigger than 20 per cent, bigger than 50 per cent. It’s even bigger than 60 per cent. I know there are some over there who have education outside of being union organisers and all those types of things. They know that a 70 per cent increase is an increase. It’s not a cut, it’s not a decrease; it is an increase in funding. So we have guaranteed Medicare through the Medicare Guarantee Act and we have increased federal funding to the health system for public hospital services. But there are some challenges out there. Mr Deputy Speaker, you know that I’m a passionate Queenslander and, unfortunately, Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Labor Premier of Queensland, is refusing to sign up to the national partnership agreement. Not only that but, in my electorate, in the area of Wide Bay—I have Hinkler and my next door neighbour is Wide Bay, but the area is generically known as Wide Bay—state Labor cut nearly $4 million in the last year alone, 2016-17 to 2017-18, and, at the time, our contribution increased by $25 million.

So we have a state government in Queensland that are cutting funding to health services. We are trying to increase funding to health services. Across the board, it is a 70 per cent increase, and yet we have a state Labor government that will not sign up to the national partnership agreement; they just will not. There are billions of dollars that can help our people, the people we represent, just like those opposite. I say to those opposite from state Labor in Queensland: get in there, convince Palaszczuk to sign the national partnership agreement. It is in all of our interests. We are ready to provide that funding. It is much better for us; it is much better for our constituents.

We hear all the noise around Medicare. I’ve got to say, in my electorate of Hinkler in 2012-13 our local GP bulk-billing data showed there were 768,076 individual services bulk-billed. In 2017-18, that is now 944,174. That is a substantial increase in the number of services provided to the people in my electorate. In fact, it is up by 167,098. So I say to those opposite: stop trying to make political mileage out of things that don’t exist; stop making up numbers; stop suggesting to those vulnerable people who are concerned about health services that there are cuts when they are not. We know that the Labor state Premier in Queensland is not signing the agreement. We know that they’ve taken money out of my electorate and others across the state. On this side, we will continue to deliver. Those on the opposite side will not.

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