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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 March 2008) . . Page.. 398 ..

hospital and trying to keep people out of hospital, and deals with people after they have left hospital; that is, care in the community.

One of the issues that the states and territories have been battling over the last 10 years is a massive reduction of $1.2 billion from the public hospital system. The previous Howard government removed $1.2 billion from public health. The gap was filled by the states and territories, which had to increase their funding to try to compensate for the enormous gap left by the Howard government removing money from the public health system and putting it into the private health and private insurance system. This has left the public hospital system struggling to deal with the demand that has been placed upon them.

In those negotiations I have been saying that the ACT government is not at all scared of signing up for performance targets. The ACT is not frightened about public reporting. In fact, compare us to any jurisdiction in the country and you will see that we provide more information than most about how our public health system is performing. At the same time, we need from the commonwealth a commitment to replace, at a minimum, the money that has been removed from the public health system.

The commonwealth cannot argue for increased outputs in the public hospital system unless there is increased funding. There was an acknowledgement of that in the election campaign. There was a commitment from the Rudd government to put that money back into the hospital system. But I, as the ACT health minister, cannot say that we will do all of these things more unless our funding base is what it should be; unless I have a funding base that could deliver those things.

Those discussions are ongoing. I have to say—I have said it publicly—we are not scared of signing up for performance targets and we are not scared of public reporting. Both of those things sit very comfortably with me. But we cannot agree to performance targets without some money being on the table. At the moment, those negotiations have not been completed. I will hardly stand here and disclose those negotiations before they are complete. I can say that we will be negotiating on performance targets and public reporting mechanisms. I understand the commonwealth’s position that they want some agreements from states about that before they put their money on the table. The story is that negotiations continue and we are looking to have an agreement in place by the end of June.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Leader of the Opposition?

MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, given the significant increases in revenue available to the ACT government in the past few years, why does it take federal government prodding for you to undertake the necessary reforms to our health system?

Mr Stanhope: How many beds did the Liberals close?

Mr Smyth: How many beds did you close?

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