Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 12 February 2015) . . Page.. 244 ..
doctors and nurses, and further reviews of our models of care. We have also committed $23 million to provide 12 new beds in the Canberra Hospital ED, and this is a very important reform.
Turning to commonwealth reforms, the most recent federal budget figures indicate that funding from the commonwealth to the ACT for public hospital services will be approximately $240 million less than anticipated by the government over the next four years—a quarter of a billion dollars less coming from the federal Liberal government to our public hospital services. This significant shortfall is a real problem.
The major reason for this reduction in expenditure is related to the abrogation by the commonwealth of its commitments under the national health reform agreement to provide funding guarantees up to the levels that would have been provided had the previous healthcare arrangements remained in place. We are now in a situation where we have to report against these new targets under the national healthcare reform agreement, but we do not get any funding from the commonwealth to recognise the shift to those new performance arrangements, contrary to the commitments previously given.
The basis of the NHRA and the commitment to funding guarantees was based on the commonwealth’s recognition of its obligation to fund a greater proportion of public hospital services than was the case in the previous agreement. No statements about increases in public hospital funding across the nation by the current Liberal federal government explain the real funding cut to the ACT due to this arbitrary cessation of funding guarantees.
The Abbott government has unilaterally walked away from key commitments contained in the national health reform agreement which was signed in good faith in 2011. The ACT’s position in relation to the NHRA will need to be reconsidered, given the commonwealth’s abrogation of its commitments to guarantee that no jurisdiction would be worse off. Commonwealth health department officials at the Senate on 2 June last year clarified that there would be $55 billion less funding nationally for hospitals over the next decade. This is $55 billion less from the federal government, and there has been no consideration by the Liberals of what this means for our public hospitals. The simple fact is that for the ACT there will be $210 million less than the growth the ACT has calculated for our hospital systems. We need to manage this, to protect services but also hold the federal Liberal government to account for their failure to support health.
The federal budget also included announcements regarding changes to a range of other agreements. The national partnership agreement on preventative health was abolished four years earlier than expected. This represents a loss of around 47 per cent of ACT health funding for health promotion and prevention. The national partnership agreement on preventative health was aimed at stimulating action in preventing chronic disease and funded some really important programs, like the healthy children initiative, aimed at reducing the level of obesity in kids aged zero to 18 years; the healthy workers initiative to promote healthy lifestyles in workplaces; the healthy communities initiative to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity; and infrastructure to support the measurement of risk factors in our health population. All this money is lost.