Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2010) . . Page.. 2270 ..
MR DOSZPOT: Minister, if you understand or have access to the appropriate level of detail, why was your government so quick to sign up?
MS GALLAGHER: Again, Mr Doszpot, I do not think you were there at the time, but we did go through this, excruciatingly, at estimates. We signed up because we needed the commonwealth to come to the table and assist in the growth funding for health. If we did not, by about 2035 in the ACT 100 per cent of our budget would be taken up with the Health portfolio, which means there would be no money for education, no money for disability, no money for TAMS—no money for any other aspect of government service delivery.
With the rate that health was growing, which is around 10 per cent every year—and that is not just here in the ACT; it is right across the country—we as states and territories have been lobbying for years for the commonwealth to come and take a reasonable share of the growth costs in health. They have the revenue base from which to meet some of those costs and to take a share of those costs as they increase.
For the first time since I have been health minister, we had a commonwealth government that came and said, “Yes, we will take a share of the growth costs and we will have that uncapped.” Previously, the national healthcare agreements—
Mr Hanson: Why have they given it to WA without signing up?
MS GALLAGHER: I cannot answer for WA, Mr Hanson. I am sure you have got a direct bat phone straight to the WA government and I suggest you use it and you ask them. But for the ACT—and I must say that the ACT government’s decision making on this was not about whether or not this is good for the WA government—our decision making on this was whether it was right for the ACT and the ACT community. And it is right for the ACT community. Over the longer term, an additional $250 million will come to this territory to meet some of those increases in health costs, and that growth money is uncapped.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, a supplementary question?
MR HANSON: Minister, what other elements of the deal are subject to working out the detail?
MS GALLAGHER: Quite a lot of them are, but it is not unexpected when you reach high level agreements—COAG is a high level decision-making body—that the detail that underpins them is yet to come. For example, how we establish our local hospital network, the make-up of it, the governance of it, and the arrangements of whether it is a legislative arrangement or not are still issues to be resolved. Those are the kinds of details that will be worked through in a very systematic and coordinated manner.
I see Mr Hanson shaking his head. I do not know why he is shaking his head. It is not that hard to understand. But the implementation phase that we are going through now, decisions are being made, implementation is occurring now, and some of that is subject to final detail and sign-off. I know you have never been in government, Mr Hanson, so you do not understand, but this is the way things are done.