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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 9094


Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (21:15): I indicate that I will be supporting the coalition's amendment. It makes good sense to support the amendment moved by Senator Fierravanti-Wells on behalf of the coalition. I think it is quite reasonable that there should be at least one person at the pricing authority who has substantial experience and knowledge and significant standing in the private hospital system.

Some time ago in relation to the Medicare levy surcharge—three years ago, although it seems longer—the government, as part of the negotiations for my support, agreed to a comprehensive study by the Productivity Commission on the comparative efficiencies between private and public hospitals systems. That was a very good exercise and the Productivity Commission produced a lot of useful information. It underscored where there would be unanimity in relation to that report and it underscored the importance of having both a robust public health system and a robust private health system, and the interaction between the two, to get the best possible outcome for health consumers, for the people of Australia. I note the figures given by Senator Fierravanti-Wells. Some 43 per cent of hospital beds relate to the private system. I think it would be remiss of us not to have a representative of the private hospital sector on such a pricing authority. If it is to be truly independent, truly inclusive and truly representative, this amendment ought to be supported and I do so.