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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 7 May 2015) . . Page.. 1530 ..

But this is not a crisis. The crisis will come from the Liberals’ decision to undermine our capacity to appropriately fund health services by taking up to a billion dollars out of the growth funding we should have been getting over the next 10 years for our public hospitals. This will hit us hard. And it is not necessary. As a nation, expenditure on health as a proportion of GDP is lower in Australia, at 9.1 per cent, than the 9.3 per cent of the OECD average and well below the 16.9 per cent in the US. Public funding of all health services is at 68 per cent of the total, compared with the OECD average of 72 per cent. So it is not a crisis.

A well-funded health system into the future is not beyond us. What it needs is a government that understands the challenges, and plans for them, and a partnership at the national level between the commonwealth, the states and the territories that recognises the importance of adequate health funding for individuals and the nation as a whole.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (3.49): I commend Dr Bourke for bringing this matter of public importance before the Assembly today. The Canberra Liberals are committed to health and health funding. That has been demonstrated over the period that I have been the shadow health minister, for the last few years and prior.

The budget for ACT health was $1.4 billion in 2014-15, a figure we support, which is about 30 per cent of the annual budget. It is the single highest expenditure item in our budget. Of that, hospital expenditure is the highest proportion. In fact, about a dollar out of every seven collected from taxpayers goes to our hospital system.

I will go to some of the points that Dr Bourke was making about federal funding. Obviously that is an important part of the composition of our funding. Let us make it very clear that the money that was promised by Kevin Rudd at the end of his term—the death throes of the six years of fiasco we saw under Rudd-Gillard-Rudd—was never in any budget. It does not appear in any budget line in the ACT budget and it never appeared in any federal budget line. In the last years of the Rudd government, they promised money in the outyears, well beyond the time of the budget—massive amounts of money, in the billions of dollars, that never existed. There was never any plan as to how that money could be afforded. There was never any proposal put forward about where this money would come from other than, essentially, debt.

The sad reality is that if you start funding your health system exponentially on debt, it is just not sustainable. We support—we welcome, we encourage, we want to see—health spending that is at as a high level as it can be. But it must be sustainable. This is the old Labor trick: “Let’s promise some money in the outyears that beyond the outyears is never there, and then let’s say it was ripped out by the nasty Liberals.”

The reality is that, as I alluded to in a supplementary question today, health funding under the current federal government is increasing. The health funding for 2014-15 is $15.1 billion. In 2015-16 there is $16.5 billion. In 2016-17 there is $18.5 billion. So it is going on year by year at about nine per cent. That has always been the case. That level of health funding in the budget has been embedded, and largely this is the sort of funding that enjoys bipartisan support.

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