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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 2 Hansard (29 February) . . Page.. 487 ..

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, maybe it will be easier if I say it again. CRA has not gone ahead with any restructuring in any State that has not given an exemption. They have approached the New South Wales Government, the ACT Government and the Victorian Government. Two of those States and the ACT have given a waiver and restructuring has gone ahead. I said that, to my knowledge, no official approach has been made to any other government in Australia. I think that makes it very clear.

Private Health Insurance

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, my question is directed to the Chief Minister in her capacity as Minister for Health and Community Care. I refer the Minister to the massive decline in private health insurance membership that is occurring throughout Australia today, but in particular here in this Territory. Minister, what impact has this enormous decline had on the ACT public health system?

MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Hird. Mr Speaker, the number of Australians with private health insurance currently stands at 34.5 per cent.

Ms McRae: What has this to do with her?

MRS CARNELL: It has a lot to do with the funding of Woden Valley Hospital, I can promise you; in fact, it has an enormous amount to do with the problems we have in health funding in this Territory. Thirteen years ago, when the Federal Labor Government came to office, there was 63.7 per cent of Australians with private cover. We have gone from 63.7 per cent to 34.5 per cent. This means that every single day about 1,000 Australians are dropping out of private cover. Far from stemming the exodus from private health insurance, the Federal Labor Government's health insurance legislation seems to have had very little impact on the crisis - potentially no impact at all.

Mr Berry: It is not a crisis; it is a good thing.

MRS CARNELL: There we are; Mr Berry thinks this is a good thing. Mr Berry obviously believes that the health insurance legislation put forward by his Federal colleagues to try to stop the exodus was a stupid move, because Mr Berry obviously thinks it does not matter. Mr Speaker, the Canberra Times commented in October last year and said this:

The financial burden for fewer private patients is largely falling on the States, yet only the Commonwealth can do much about it.

The newspaper went on to say:

State and Territory public hospitals, which are obliged under the Medicare agreement to take all comers, get less revenue because federal health policy has permitted the rundown of private insurance.

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