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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 4 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1310..


Health—budget

MR DOSZPOT: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, you are quoted as saying that the high level of growth was unsustainable and that you would take moves to slow the increase. I quote: "It's clear we have to look at new ways to manage our growing health costs."Minister, what will be the impact on the delivery of health services if the government cuts the health budget?

MS GALLAGHER: The government is not cutting the health budget.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Doszpot.

MR DOSZPOT: How much will you reduce costs by, minister, to make the management of the hospital sustainable?

MS GALLAGHER: The health budget exceeds $1.2 billion a year. We are at the moment growing at a rate of between six and eight per cent, closer to eight per cent over the long term, over the last 10 years. So if nothing is done to slow the growth of health expenditure, it will consume all of the ACT's budget—all of it. So that means no funding for education, municipal services, all the priorities that we have and all the priorities that you have. That is in the long term. That will not happen until after 2050, but if we do not take steps to try to rein in the growth in health expansion, it will be unsustainable for the Legislative Assembly of 2050 and beyond.

We are trying to look at ways of slowing the growth from around eight per cent to somewhere closer to five per cent. So it is not talking about cutting health expenditure; it actually still continues to grow, and grow in the order of several hundred million dollars per year. It is about not growing as rapidly as it has in the last 10 years.

There will be some discussions we have to have with the community. Every government at every level is having them. This is exactly the problem that Minister Peter Dutton is talking about now federally. Costs for the commonwealth government in health expenditure have grown at about the same rate as well. They are certainly using health at the forefront of some of the budget emergency talk that they are having now.

It is a genuinely serious issue. We do contribute to that as a community. The rise in chronic diseases and our unhealthy lifestyles are compounding the expenditure in health. So some of the work we are doing in the healthy weight initiative is part of the answer. (Time expired.)

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, how will you meet increases in demand for health services if you do not increase the health budget?

MS GALLAGHER: I think it will be through a variety of means. They will include early intervention; prevention; growing the primary healthcare sector here in the ACT;


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