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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 9095

Senator McLUCAS (QueenslandParliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers) (21:17): The government do not support the amendment proposed by the opposition, as we do not believe that it would enhance the provisions of the bill. Currently there is a provision for one member to have rural and regional experience with flexibility for other members agreed between the states and territories and the Commonwealth to ensure a variety of experience and expertise for the membership. The Council of Australian Governments has already announced the chair and the deputy chair of the IHPA. The chair will be Mr Shane Solomon, who gained experience in the provision of public hospital services from non-government operators when he was the group chief executive officer of Mercy Health and Aged Care Victoria.

While other appointments are under consideration by COAG, the government expects at least one other member to have the experience the opposition seeks. That has been explained to the office of the shadow health minister. While we agree with the outcome the opposition is seeking, we see no reason to diverge from the National Health Reform Agreement in this case. The way the amendment is drafted would potentially include a person with purely private hospital experience in the definition of membership, even though they are not covered by the authority and have very different pricing models from public hospitals. Private and NGO operated public hospitals will be able to and will be encouraged to direct their recommendations direct to the authority during the public consultation.