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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 1071..

MR CORBELL: I am not sure whether that asked for an expression of opinion, but I am happy to answer the question if it did not. It is an interesting proposition that the Prime Minister-or, at least, some members of the government-has raised. It is interesting for a number of reasons. First of all, this is the same federal government that has taken $1 billion out of public hospitals over the period of the existing Australian health care agreement-$1 billion nationally. On top of that, I have had a recent discussion via correspondence with the federal minister, Mr Abbott. A letter to me from Mr Abbott as late as 19 February this year indicated that he felt that the states and territories were best placed to finance, administer and deliver primary health care services. So it is quite an extraordinary turnaround for the federal government to now put the view, even though their health minister says the states and territories are best placed to deliver health care, that perhaps that is something that the federal government can do.

There is no doubt in my mind that there are gaps in the system between the states, territories and the Commonwealth when it comes to funding and that can have, on occasion, a detrimental impact on the continuity of care for people using the health system. That is one of the reasons why the ACT government, along with all of the state and territory governments, has consistently argued that there needs to be a broad-ranging discussion about reform of our health care system and reform of the administrative and funding arrangements. It is not just an argument about how much money. We will always have that argument at the end of the day. It is about how the dollars are funnelled, who pays them and to where, so that we can improve continuity of care. That is something that the Commonwealth rejected in the lead-up to the last round of the Australian health care agreements. If the Commonwealth government is serious about reform, I welcome that. We do want to have a discussion about reform, and I think all the other states and territories want that as well. Certainly from my discussions with my colleagues that would seem to be the case. I think that would be a very positive thing, but I do have some doubts about the credibility of the federal government on this particular issue.

MRS CROSS: I thank the minister for his answer and ask as a supplementary question: Minister, would you support the federal government having complete funding control if it improved hospital waiting lists, hospital waiting times and improved services for the residents of the ACT?

Mrs Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would contend under standing order 117 (c) (i) that that is asking for an expression of opinion.

MR SPEAKER: I think Mrs Cross said, "Would you support".

Mrs Cross: Yes, I did ask, "Would you support".

Mrs Dunne: I still think that is asking for an expression of opinion.

MR SPEAKER: Well, what is the government's position; would you support-

Mrs Dunne: That would be executive policy, Mr Speaker.

Mrs Cross: No. I was not asking for executive policy.

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