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Thursday, 21 February 2008
Page: 1154


Mr HOCKEY (2:32 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing: given the Prime Minister’s so-called commitment to greater transparency and accountability, will the minister release the full methodology for the distribution of health funds to the states to fix hospital waiting lists?


Ms ROXON (Minister for Health and Ageing) —I thank the member for his question and I am pleased that I finally have one from the shadow minister for health. I was a bit fearful—when he was on holidays for months on end, did not issue a press release, did not do anything—that maybe I would not get a question on health at all.


Dr Nelson —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The minister is being quite inappropriate and could she please answer the question.


The SPEAKER —The minister has the call. She will answer the question.


Ms ROXON —I thank the shadow minister for his question. As he well knows, we are in a negotiation phase with the states over the healthcare agreements. We are having intensive negotiations over a range of extensive reforms—something that the shadow minister’s predecessor refused to do. I have no intention at all of flagging in this place or publicly the sort of funding that we might in our negotiations be discussing with the states.

I can assure the member opposite that the one thing we will not be doing in our negotiations with the states is pulling a billion dollars out of public hospital funding. I have to wonder, particularly with this shadow minister, who spent so much of the last term in government doing over working people with Work Choices, whether he did not bother to take any time or pay any—


Mr Hartsuyker —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. This is a question about the distribution of funds for health.


The SPEAKER —The minister will answer the question.


Ms ROXON —The point is the shadow minister—if he is not aware already, he will no doubt be aware soon—sat around a cabinet table that pulled a billon dollars out of public hospital funding and did not do anything about it, and we intend to fix that problem.


The SPEAKER —The member for North Sydney on a point of order.


Mr Hockey —No, Mr Speaker: I refer to section 101(b) of the standing orders and ask a supplementary question: when will the minister release the methodology on the money that is already being sent to the states?


The SPEAKER —I will not allow the supplementary question, consistent with guidelines set down by previous Speakers.


Mr Hockey —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I refer you to the practice of Speaker Halverson, which was based on the recommendations of—

Government members interjecting—


Mr Hockey —Listen: you may learn something!


The SPEAKER —The chamber will come to order!


Mr Hockey —I refer you to the decision made by Speaker Halverson, which was based on—

Government members interjecting—


Mr Hockey —before they start laughing—a Labor Party controlled Privileges Committee recommendation in 1994 that there be supplementary questions after each question; the capacity for that to be held. That was the Labor Party’s policy in 1994. I ask whether you are in fact changing that policy as new Speaker—and it was Labor Party policy.


The SPEAKER —I thank the member for North Sydney for his lifeline in his last statement. I am not here to promote any party’s position on anything to do with the Speakership. If he is serious about the matter of supplementary questions, he will not enter into a contest in comedy with the chair. If he is harking back to something that Speaker Halverson attempted to do, he is aware of what happened after that. At this point in time, I am adopting the precedents of recent Speakers, but I lay down yet another challenge to the House: when the Procedure Committee gets underway, if the member for North Sydney believes that this is something on which those to my right have an attitude that now he can agree with, perhaps through that committee they might come up with an agreed position that will allow supplementary questions.


Mr Hockey —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order which refers to what you just said. Section 101(b) of the standing orders explicitly states that the Speaker, not the parliament, determines whether supplementary questions are allowed.


The SPEAKER —And the Speaker has on this occasion determined it. What I am suggesting is that, if that causes the membership of the House concern, the membership of the House should deal with it through the processes of the parliament that are available.