Mental Health Services

It is extraordinary to hear from the member for Sturt anything about mental health given the very low priority given to that area of government policy by the former government, represented by the fact that the former Minister for Health and Ageing was not prepared to take up ministerial responsibility for mental health but, rather, delegated it to the member for Sturt in his junior capacity as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing.

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NATIONAL HEALTH AMENDMENT (PHARMACEUTICAL AND OTHER BENEFITS—COST RECOVERY) BILL 2008

I rise in support of the National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical and Other Benefits—Cost Recovery) Bill 2008. This bill amends the National Health Act 1953 and provides authority for the Commonwealth to recover costs for the listing of medicines, vaccines and other products or services on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the designation of vaccines to the National Immunisation Program. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is very important to the people of Australia. Along with Medicare and public hospitals, it forms a cornerstone of our public health system. We should recall that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme itself was one of the great social reforms of the Chifley government when it was established in 1948.

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International Men’s Health Week

International Men’s Health Week, to be held from 9 to 15 June 2008, is a week of activities designed to raise awareness of men’s health and related issues. Men and boys face specific health concerns relating to anatomical and biological differences and also to differences in lifestyle and culture which are far too often overlooked. International Men’s Health Week is an important opportunity to encourage men to attend regular check-ups with their doctors and other health services.

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Death Penalty

I want to speak tonight on constitutional change, but, before I do, I want to add my voice to that of the member for Werriwa in relation to capital punishment. I have a very sharp memory of attending a vigil in Melbourne with hundreds of others at the time of the hanging of Van Tuong Nguyen, an Australian in Singapore’s Changi Prison, on 2 December 2005. He was hanged despite calls from the former Prime Minister, from my party—then in opposition—from this parliament, from every state parliament and from tens of thousands of Australians. The very first thing we need to do is to pursue through diplomatic efforts the banishing of the mandatory death penalty. It is the first step in getting rid of the death penalty everywhere. Courts everywhere must have the discretion to impose appropriate penalties, which means that judges must have the choice of leniency.

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Isaacs Electorate: Manufacturing

It is important to recognise the efforts of manufacturers in my electorate of Isaacs, in the south-east of Melbourne. It is fitting to do so this week, which is National Manufacturing Week. It has become all too common to downplay the important role that manufacturing continues to play in the Australian economy. Manufacturing exports were worth over $87.1 billion last year and the sector was responsible for almost 40 per cent of business expenditure on research and development. A strong manufacturing sector is critical to the current and future prosperity of our nation. All of this is particularly true for the south-east of Melbourne, which is the manufacturing hub of Victoria and a key manufacturing centre for the country.

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APPROPRIATION BILL 2008-2009

The Commonwealth budget is an opportunity for a government to lay out a path forward for our nation. It is an opportunity for the government to address the challenges that our nation faces now and in the future. This budget demonstrates to the Australian people that this is a government which will fulfil its commitments on education and skills, its commitments on climate change and the environment, its commitments on infrastructure and its commitments on health. It is a budget which does so in a fiscally responsible manner. The budget has delivered a surplus of 1.8 per cent of GDP. Together with the Prime Minister’s five-point plan to tackle inflation, this budget demonstrates that Labor is the party of fiscal responsibility and economic reform. It is a budget in the Labor tradition, which delivers for the people of our Isaacs electorate. It delivers for working people, for seniors, for pensioners and for those doing it tough.

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EXPORT MARKET DEVELOPMENT GRANTS AMENDMENT BILL 2008

I rise to speak in support of the Export Market Development Grants Amendment Bill 2008. This bill forms an important part of the Rudd government’s commitment to a whole-of-government approach to supporting Australian companies in the global economy. This commitment stems from deeper values held by the Australian Labor Party and from its view of Australia and what our nation can be. The Labor Party believes in a prosperous, fair Australia supported by an open, outward-looking economy—an economy where Australian companies that want to invest overseas and export their goods and services are not held back but are instead encouraged and supported.

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Condolences for the Hon. John Norman Button

John Button was a very important figure in Victorian Labor politics and indeed on the national stage. It is a mark of John Button’s stature that the tributes to him flowed from leaders and former leaders of all major political parties and from people of all walks of life. All acknowledged his role in reforming the Australian economy. All acknowledged his commitment to the Australian manufacturing industry. Many of the tributes recounted his achievements through his life—and we have heard during the debate on this condolence motion that kind of acknowledgement.

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TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (2008 MEASURES NO. 2) BILL 2008

I rise to support the Tax Laws Amendment (2008 Measures No. 2) Bill 2008. Like the member for Blair I feel bound to comment on the extraordinary contribution made by the member for Bowman, the previous speaker from the opposition, to this debate. The member for Bowman managed to say nothing about the bill before the House and spent his time railing against imagined faults in the budget announced last night. By contrast, the member for Blair has addressed the bill and I propose to do the same thing.

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HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT AMENDMENT BILL 2008

I rise today to support the Higher Education Support Amendment (Removal of the Higher Education Workplace Relations Requirements and National Governance Protocols Requirements and Other Matters) Bill 2008. This bill is an important step in overturning the regressive and mean-spirited agenda of the previous government. The introduction of the higher education workplace relations requirements and the national governance protocols themselves represented very directly one of the worst elements of the former government’s policies. They represented the ideological commitment to what was, in reality, an unfair workplace relations system. They represented unwarranted interference in the running of important national institutions and they represented very directly the willingness of the former government to use every Commonwealth power to further the government’s ideological attacks on perceived or imagined opponents, which, in this case, were universities and trade unions.

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