The confected crisis

If, as predicted, a GP tax is included in tonight's budget then the Liberals and the Nationals will understand very quickly how people feel about that change to Medicare. They will understand very quickly the backlash to the GP tax, not to mention the petrol tax, the personal tax increase, the failure to fund education as they had promised—the broken promises from a Prime Minister who claimed he would have no excuses

Ms BUTLER (Griffith) (15:44):  It is of course a pleasure to stand here before the parliament to help to debunk the myth that there is a budget emergency. There is no budget emergency despite what those opposite have tried to convince the Australian public to justify their ideological attacks on public services in this country. Despite the rhetoric from the Liberals and Nationals, Australia's economy is the envy of the world. We have a record of continuous economic growth over the last 22 years that is to be acknowledged and celebrated.

During Labor's period of office we moved from being the 15th biggest economy in the world to being the 12th. Our GDP per capita ranking moved from being the 17th best in the world to the eighth best. We have a AAA credit rating from the three main ratings agencies, and we maintained it through the global financial crisis. By the time we left office we were one of only eight countries in the world that had these three AAA credit ratings with a stable outlook. According to Credit Suisse's Global Wealth Report, in 2013 Australia was number one in the world for median adult wealth. Our net debt is just 11 per cent of GDP. It is the third lowest net debt in the OECD, and yet the Liberal-National Party carry on as if there is a budget emergency.

Let us talk about the figures in MYEFO—$68 billion added by the Treasurer since the pre-election fiscal outlook. What did the Treasurer do? He looked at the way unemployment was being calculated and forecasted and he changed the way unemployment was being forecasted, even though they were the same forecasting arrangements that had been in place under the Howard government. What did changing the forecasts for unemployment do? It hit revenue and, of course, it hit spending.

What else have we seen from this Treasurer? Removing the two per cent spending cap. After the global financial crisis Labor maintained its spending cap. We kept spending growth to below two per cent after the global financial crisis. As the shadow Treasurer has said, it is a two-card trick—you take away the two per cent spending cap in MYEFO and you put it back on in the budget and claim to have improved the deficit position. People are not going to fall for that.

What else have we seen from this government? The trick they are trying to play on the Australian people in the way that foreign aid was calculated and projected to grow under MYEFO. They have admitted in question time, in this place, that they had no intention of spending that money on foreign aid. Of course people are right to be dubious about MYEFO; people are right to be dubious about the $68 billion that the Treasurer has added to the deficit over the forward estimates. Why should people be sceptical? Because we are being softened up for cuts to services that are ideological.

This mob opposite us have wanted to get rid of Medicare since before its inception. We celebrated 30 years of Medicare this year. If it was not for the Liberals and the Nationals it would have been 40 years of Medicare. They have always hated universal health care. They have always hated spending Australians' money on making sure there is universal access to health care. That is why tonight we will see the shameful end of universal health care in this country with the introduction of a GP tax. When I was running in the Griffith by-election only a matter of months ago I was accused by people opposite of running a scare campaign about the GP tax. We had everybody from the foreign minister to the Prime Minister swanning in to Griffith to say, 'We've got no plans for a GP tax.' Yet here we are, a few short months later, and what are we expecting tonight? What do you think it is? Is it a GP tax? It is a GP tax. It is the end of universal health care in this country.

The people opposite, the Liberals and Nationals, have always hated Medicare and universal health care. People in the electorate of Griffith who I represent and people across Australia love universal health care; they love Medicare because it is one of the defining achievements of our social democracy in Australia. If, as predicted, a GP tax is included in tonight's budget then the Liberals and the Nationals will understand very quickly how people feel about that change to Medicare. They will understand very quickly the backlash to the GP tax, not to mention the petrol tax, the personal tax increase, the failure to fund education as they had promised—the broken promises from a Prime Minister who claimed he would have no excuses.

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