Page 2326 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 August 2015

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Australian Local Government Association, was a significant step forward in fixing Australia’s federation. We discussed a range of challenges and looked, in the first instance, to identify the key problems and challenges facing our federation. These include maintaining health services and standards, building new infrastructure to reduce congestion and improve the quality of life in our respective communities, the delivery of fair and affordable access to housing, the provision of training that equips people for real jobs, and work to ensure that our education system prepares our nation’s children for a globally competitive and interconnected world.

It was very heartening that for the first time, in recent memory anyway, all leaders, regardless of jurisdiction or political party, recognised that without reform our health system would begin to buckle under the pressure of an ageing population. New South Wales Premier Mike Baird deserves great credit for doing the work and putting on the table the costs—the significant increased costs—facing the Australian population when it comes to health service delivery over the next 15 years.

Thanks to Premier Baird’s honesty, and then the support of other state and territory leaders and ultimately the Prime Minister, we were able to have an honest conversation about the problems that we are facing now and that we will face over the next generation. But for the first time there was an agreement by all leaders across the political divide in this country that whilst we can and should continue to make service delivery efficiencies, there will be a significant gap—even with those efficiencies, a significant gap—between the resources necessary to just maintain health services into the future and the revenue that we have available to us as state, territory and commonwealth governments.

By 2030, the total fiscal gap across this country could be as high as $45 billion, the health funding gap being $35 billion of that. So there was unanimous commitment amongst leaders that we need to confront these issues head on and that we must keep an open mind on ways to better fund the needs of our citizens. It is through this work, through the work of treasurers at the tax reform meeting that will be held in Canberra in three weeks time, that the leaders in this country, at a state, territory and commonwealth level, across the political divide, will seek to continue to work together, having identified the problems, to now provide viable solutions.

That will mean more efficiencies in service delivery and reform of our federation, but it also means increased revenue at both a commonwealth and a state and territory level if we are just to maintain our current level of health service provision. That is now agreed across the political divide—Labor and Liberal; small states; big states; and the commonwealth. That was a significant achievement out of the leaders retreat.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Chief Minister, why have decisions around health funding arrangements become more necessary and urgent over the past year?

MR BARR: The 2014 federal budget instituted a range of changes that included the cessation of the national health reform agreement that the states and territories and the commonwealth had signed up to in 2011. The ACT signed that agreement on the basis

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