Parliament House 17th June 2014

Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter) (13:42):  The Prime Minister says that he has delivered the budget the Australian people voted for him to bring down. Well, he will not find too many people in rural and regional Australia who will agree with that statement. He will not find any people in the bush thankful for the cuts to Medicare Local, which, as the member for Newcastle has already pointed out, has already cost Hunter Medicare Local 10 per cent of its budget and nine staff. This is an organisation which has been so critical to bringing down GP to resident ratios in the Hunter and of course opening up more bulk-billing opportunities.

And the Australian people certainly did not vote for cuts to family assistance to pay for a paid parental leave scheme for high-income earners. As we know, thanks to some guidance from The Australian newspaper today, this particularly affects people in rural and regional Australia, where the ratios of those who receive family tax benefit B and those who will receive paid parental leave are very different. In the North Shore—in the Prime Minister's and Treasurer's seats—the ratio is about five to one. In rural seats the average is around 25 to one.

I wonder what the members for Gippsland, Hinkler, Page, Bass and others in this place think about this proposal. They are trying to explain to their local communities why they should be giving up family assistance to give money to high-income earners, who do not need the money.

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