Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (15:28): If the longest queue in the building is the queue outside of the coffee shop at eight o'clock in the morning, the shortest queue in the building has got to be the queue of government MPs that are willing to line up here in this parliament and defend their own government's policy when it comes to their atrocious attacks on the health care system.
Mr Ewen Jones interjecting—
Mr Nikolic interjecting—
Mr STEPHEN JONES: I see Townsville's answer to Benny Hill has got a lot to say, I see 'Sergeant Strop' from Bass over there has got a lot to say, but none of them are willing to put themselves on the speaking list. They had an opportunity today to put themselves on the speaking list and defend their horrid attacks on the PBS system. But all we see is four people who are willing to stand up and defend their government's atrocious attacks on the health system.
Even the minister today had the opportunity—he was given 10 minutes—to say something nice about the nurses who labour day in and day out, caring for the sick in our hospitals. He was given 10 minutes to say something nice about them and he could not find it within himself to praise the men and women who labour day in and day out looking after the sick in our hospitals. Is it any wonder that he had nothing nice to say about them? From the cradle to the grave the nurses are copping it under this government. There is their deregulation of university fees. We heard during question time today that a nurse could expect to pay close to $98,000 to receive a university degree that would qualify them to practise. What did the Deputy Prime Minister have to say about this? He said, 'Don't worry about the $98,000 because we are giving you $500 back in the carbon tax.' With maths like that, is it any wonder he had to give up farming?
Nurses cop it from the beginning to the end under this government. Their penalty rates are in the fire because the minister for industrial relations has promised a comprehensive review—everything is going to be on the table. Under this government those people who work 12-hour shifts across the weekend and over 24 hours a day can look forward to an attack on their penalty rates, because it is in the government's DNA. If it is not enough that the government is coming after their university fees, coming after their penalty rates and making it harder for them to do their job, it is going to ask them to work longer. Only a government made up of people who have never had to work hard shift work in all their lives—nobody has done a hard job where they have had to stand on their feet for 12 or 14 hours a day—would suggest you could do that until the age of 70. That is what the nurses have got to look forward to under this government. It is an absolute and complete breach of faith.
We heard the minister say that there are no cuts to hospitals. We know they do not like to listen to union officials but here is one union official they might like to listen to. During question time today, the AMA said that Australia has 'one of the most efficient and high-performing health systems in the world'. The AMA has said that the health budget is not out of control. That is a complete contradiction of what the government has said. The government is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the Australian people.
The government say that Medicare spending is out of control. I had a look at Medicare spending. They like to look at the figures over the last 10 years. The government outlay was 4.8 per cent in 2003-04 and 4.6 per cent in 2013-14. The government outlay has actually gone down. The AMA knows it and the nurses of Australia know it. The nurses, the AMA and everybody who has anything to do with the health system know that your rotten GP tax and your rotten plan for the health system just will not wash.