Gaming Machine Tax
Mr ANDREW STONER: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Health. How can he defend his Government's clubs tax grab given that it is responsible for the scrapping of a $50 million hospital and teaching facility planned by the Tweed Bowls Club—a project that the Premier praised last year as ambitious and sophisticated?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Members on both the Government and the Opposition benches will come to order.
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: I will support, defend and promote any measure that puts more money into our public hospitals. I will promote, support and defend any revenue measure that improves the quality of health services in this State, including the poker machine tax.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will come to order.
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: The Leader of The Nationals can talk all he likes about the Tweed Heads hospital. I do not know if he has been there recently, but it is a brand new spanking hospital built by this Government out of its capital fund allocations.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting.
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: He can ask all the questions he likes about the poker machine tax, health funds and the super-growth tax, about what happens to the money and where it comes from, but the one thing he will not ask when it comes to health funding is a question of John Howard about putting more funding into our public hospitals. We have just completed a nationwide process over four or five months involving every Minister for Health and the former Federal Minister for Health in which the central debate was funding for public hospitals. Did the New South Wales Opposition ever ask one question?
Mr Andrew Stoner: Point of order: In relation to Standing Order 138, which pertains to relevance, the question was clearly about a hospital that is now not going to go ahead because of the Government's clubs tax, not the Federal Government's funding. The Minister needs to tell the honourable member for Tweed how to explain this away.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is no point of order. The Minister is clearly answering the question. The Leader of The Nationals is not entitled to take a point of order merely because he does not like the answer.
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: It is extraordinary hypocrisy for the Leader of The Nationals to ask that question when he should have been asking questions about the funding formula for public hospitals under the new health care agreement that will last for the next five years. But he was deadly silent about that. He did not ask one single question. He has not asked one single question because, when it comes to doing something about public hospital funding, the one thing that the Opposition will not do is pick up the phone, call John Howard and say, "Our public hospitals deserve more funding, not less."
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for East Hills will come to order.
Mr MORRIS IEMMA: For five months, as the debate raged across the country about public hospitals funding, the Opposition was silent. Why will the Leader of The Nationals not get on the phone to John Howard and his Federal leader and ask for more funds for our hospitals? Why does he not get on the phone and tell John Howard to change the formula for funding? When members of the Opposition had the chance, they said nothing and did nothing because at the end of the day they will not do the two things that will improve the funding for public hospitals in New South Wales. They will not tell us where they will actually get the money, and they will not get on the phone to their friends in Canberra and tell them to revisit the formula.