Page 2327 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 August 2015

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that it included a commonwealth guarantee that the ACT would be no worse off under the health SPP and that we would be eligible for our fair share of additional growth funding. The 2014 commonwealth budget abandoned this guarantee. It slashed growth funding, when we all know demand is growing every year. Since then the commonwealth has largely ignored the increasing pressure on Australia’s health system.

I also note that that wilful ignorance of the pressures on our health system is shared by the Leader of the Opposition, who refuses to acknowledge the damage that his federal colleagues are causing not just to the ACT health system but to our nation’s health system. With $57 billion stripped from the nation’s growth health funding nationally, the ACT share is up to $600 million over the 10 years to 2026-27. That $600 million that has been ripped out of our health system would fund approximately 58,000 elective surgery procedures. By 2026-27 the funding would have provided for a further 1,200 nurses, or 80 intensive care unit beds, or 340 general inpatient beds in the territory.

When you boil these numbers down to the actual effect this will have on Canberrans, you can understand why the Minister for Health and I are treating this issue with such urgency. It is not just here in the ACT and it is not just Labor jurisdictions. Premier Baird in New South Wales has made exactly the same point. (Time expired.)

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Chief Minister, what options regarding changing the national tax mix were proposed by the Prime Minister and premiers?

MR BARR: Premier Baird and the Prime Minister put forward a case for a 50 per cent increase in the goods and services tax as the most effective way to address health funding challenges. Other members of COAG put forward the option of exploring increases to the Medicare levy. The important point to note is that even if the GST was increased by 50 per cent and all of that money, less the appropriate compensation, was hypothecated to health, it still would not meet the funding gap.

All first ministers agreed to keep the possibility of a range of tax changes on the table. As a first step, there was agreement by leaders to broaden the goods and services tax to cover overseas online transactions under $1,000. Specific details of further tax reform will be covered through the white paper process. But it is essential that any tax reforms are fair to Australians and that they provide a lasting and properly resourced way of addressing our future health needs to stop our health system buckling under the pressure of an ageing population. For example, any additional Medicare levy revenue should be directed into Australia’s health system. That way the community would be assured that what is raised by the Medicare levy is invested into health care.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Chief Minister, what actions are now being taken by leaders to progress consideration of possible reforms?

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