Page 1687 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 4 May 2010

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respond to the big challenges facing our health and hospital systems across the country—gaps in the provision of primary healthcare services, population growth and ageing, increasing rates of chronic disease, hospital waiting times and overlapping responsibilities and lack of coordination and integration of service systems.

In other words, the deal that we have signed up to reaches beyond the public hospitals and treats the health system as the thing that it is—an organic and independent whole. That is why it clarifies the roles of each of the tiers of government and addresses the genuine pressure points that each of these levels of government confronts in relation to primary care, acute care and aged care.

For the first time, I think probably since federation, it is fair to say that it means the states and territories can confidently fund growth in their hospitals systems. We have been doing it but it is a point of great pressure for all of the states and territories, including this one. We can now do it knowing that in the commonwealth there is a financial partner in relation to the meeting of the ever-increasing cost or growth in demand for health services here in the ACT and around Australia.

It really is a very significant change. It is the first time that the commonwealth has willingly accepted a place as a partner with the states and territories in meeting the demand in public hospital or public health service that each of the states and territories now provides to their communities.

It was a privilege to be involved in the negotiations. It was a tremendous outcome for the ACT. The Prime Minister specifically—

Mr Seselja: He was negotiating hard, wasn’t he?

MR STANHOPE: We did negotiate hard and we got some tremendous concessions for the ACT as a result of the negotiations that we undertook. (Time expired.)

MR SPEAKER: Ms Porter, a supplementary?

MS PORTER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, what are the implications of this agreement for health funding in the ACT?

MR STANHOPE: Again, I thank Ms Porter for the question. In addition to the overarching new philosophical approach represented in the heart of the agreement that was struck at COAG, there are, of course, specific and quite definable benefits, both financially and operationally, for the ACT. For instance, financially there will be an immediate injection of funding to the ACT’s public health system of around $90 million over the next four years.

That $90 million is comprised of $16 million to ensure that most people attending an emergency department will be made to wait no more than four hours to be seen, assessed and either admitted or discharged; $10 million for additional elective surgery procedures, amounting to, we hope, around 1,300 additional elective surgeries over four years; $26 million for additional subacute beds; $6.8 million in capital over two years for operating theatre equipment and infrastructure; and $7 million in flexible

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