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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3361..


Australian health care agreement

MS MacDONALD: Can the Minister for Health inform the Assembly of the result of the ACT government's negotiations with the Commonwealth over the 2003-08 Australian health care agreement?

MR CORBELL: The Australian health care agreement is, as members would be aware, the major Commonwealth-state and territory funding agreement for public hospital services. Yesterday, I signed the Australian health care agreement for the Australian Capital Territory, which will deliver Commonwealth funding of $553 million over the next five years for ACT public hospitals.

The Commonwealth's offer was not enough and we will see the ACT government shouldering an increasing share of public hospital funding in the ACT. Despite that, the ACT government signed the agreement because we have moved to achieve significant concessions from the Commonwealth government. It was clear that if the ACT government did not sign the agreement the ACT would suffer penalties to the extent of $58 million over the next five years. As Minister for Health, that was not a proposition that I wanted to enter into.

In signing the agreement, the ACT won significant concessions. These are all in areas of Commonwealth responsibility which have not been adequately resourced in the past and which have had a direct impact on ACT residents and a direct impact on the demand for public hospital services.

Since becoming Minister for Health, I have consistently argued that we need better recognition of issues to do with work force shortage of GPs in the ACT. In addition, I have argued that we need further support in relation to aged care services. That lobbying came to fruition yesterday, when the Commonwealth agreed to a range of significant concessions which will greatly improve the situation in those areas. I will outline those for the benefit of members.

First of all, the Commonwealth has agreed that it will apply, for the first time ever, the Commonwealth's outer metropolitan GP incentive scheme to Belconnen, Gungahlin, Weston Creek and Tuggeranong. The Commonwealth has agreed that, for the first time, the ACT will become a district of work force shortage for GP services. For the first time, the Commonwealth has also agreed to utilise the 50 aged care beds funding which has been approved and is not yet operational to provide for 50 transitional care beds straightaway to relieve pressure on our public hospitals. That is worth $1.8 million to the ACT annually.

The Commonwealth has also, for the first time, agreed to fund a new, improved, after-hours access model for GP services and will also fund to the tune of $5.5 million the new sub and non-acute facility which the ACT government had previously indicated it would establish with its own money.

I will outline some of the details. The proposal to shift and announce areas of Canberra as outer metropolitan-that is, Belconnen, Gungahlin, Weston Creek and Tuggeranong-is a major step forward. It means that GPs moving from inner areas of the


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