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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 3598..

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003-08 Australian health care agreement

MR HARGREAVES (12.07): I move:

That the Assembly:

welcomes the major concessions won by the ACT Government in the negotiations toward the 2003-2008 Australian Health Care Agreements. In particular, the Assembly welcomes the agreement to:

(a) extend the Commonwealth's Outer Metropolitan GP incentives scheme to Belconnen, Gungahlin, Weston Creek, and Tuggeranong;

(b) declare the ACT as a district of workforce shortage for GP services;

(c) inject $5.5m in capital funding for the ACT's new sub and non-acute facility;

(d) fund 50 transitional aged care beds worth $1.8m per annum; and

(e) increase funding for after hours access to GPs;

recognises that the 2003-2008 Australian Health Care Agreement does not meet the Territory's health funding needs and will see the ACT Government shouldering an increasing share of public hospital funding in the ACT;

expresses dismay at the tactics of the Commonwealth Government that would have seen the people of the ACT suffer substantial financial penalties of approximately $58m had the ACT Government not signed the agreement;

recognises the ongoing commitment of the ACT Government to reform the health system in the ACT.

Mr Speaker, late last month the ACT signed up to the 2003-08 Australian health care agreement. This agreement, which is a major Commonwealth, state and territory funding agreement for public hospital services, will deliver Commonwealth funding of $553 million over five years for ACT public hospitals.

I should clearly state from the outset that the Commonwealth's funding is not enough and it will result in the ACT government bearing an increased share of public hospital funding in the territory. There is nothing new about that, but people need to be aware of the extra burden that the ACT taxpayer is going to have to carry. During the negotiations, it became clear that the Commonwealth was not going to increase its offer and instead proposed to inflict substantial financial penalties of approximately $58 million on the ACT if it did not sign. This can only be characterised as outrageous bullyboy tactics from the Commonwealth.

However, in signing the agreement, the ACT government has won substantial concessions from the Commonwealth in the areas of general practice and aged care. The specific concessions won by the ACT government include the outer metropolitan GP incentives scheme, under which the Commonwealth has now agreed to extend its outer metropolitan GP incentives scheme to parts of Canberra: Belconnen, Gungahlin, Weston Creek and Tuggeranong.

This is crucial in recognising the GP shortage in the ACT. It means that GPs moving from inner metropolitan areas of state capitals will be eligible for up to $30,000 to help

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