Geoff Lee: Budget boost for Parramatta

It was a “tough” Budget but it will boost Parramatta’s capacity for medical research and create a “smarter” Australian economy, said MP Geoff Lee.

State Parramatta MP Geoff Lee says the Budget is a mix of positives and negatives. Picture: Gene Ramirez.

State Parramatta MP Geoff Lee says the Budget is a mix of positives and negatives. Picture: Gene Ramirez.

Speaking exclusively to the Sun, Mr Lee said the Abbott government’s proposed medical research fund would return Australia to an age of innovation.

Under the federal government’s plan, $7 Medicare copayments charged to patients for doctors visits will be put into a national medical research fund.

“Really, that’s the future of Australia in terms of knowledge-rich jobs,” Mr Lee said.

‘‘That will be good for Parramatta, seeing as though we have the Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research and about a dozen other research hubs in the Westmead Children’s Hospital and Westmead Hospital.

“I want a smarter economy, not just digging things out of the ground. Mining is a very important part of the economy, don’t get me wrong, but we can’t be reliant on it.”

But Mr Lee said his biggest Budget concern was the potential strain on hospitals’ emergency departments due to copayments.

“If we put a $7 copayment on doctors, that will by default encourage people to go to emergency departments,” he said. “If we get a five or 10 per cent increase in emergencies, that will come out of the state’s budget.”

Asked if the federal government was forcing the states’ hands to raise the GST, Mr Lee said that was a forthcoming debate.

“I think that’s what they’re trying to push us towards,” he said. “Certainly GST as a consumption tax works well but it misses out on essentials like food, health and medicine. It’s like going three-quarters of the way. My personal view though is we shouldn’t increase the GST, we should make better use of the money we’ve got.”

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