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ABC News Breakfast -

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JOE O'BRIEN: And for more on the COAG meeting this weekend, Health Minister Nicola Roxon joins us
now from Canberra. Minister, thanks for joining us.

Can you confirm health has secured $8 billion of the $11 billion that the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
is putting on the table?

NICOLA ROXON: Well, look, the treasurers are meeting today and we made clear in the Parliament
yesterday that an offer of over $11 billion would be on the table.

I can confirm that health has the lion's share of that money - because we understand the importance
of investing in more doctors and more nurses and more health professionals and making sure our
hospitals can run even more efficiently and service more people.

So, yes, there is a big offer on the table in health; we know that that is needed in the community.

And I think that it's going to be really good news for our health system to have the states and
Commonwealth cooperating together if this deal can be hammered out tomorrow.

JOE O'BRIEN: And more than a billion of that will go towards the doctor and nurse shortage?

NICOLA ROXON: Yes, that's right. This is quite a big reform.

It's a major investment - $1.1 billion - and it's all about doing things differently to make sure
that we have more doctors and nurses and physios and other allied health professionals in the

We need to make sure that we pay for people to be trained - both during their undergraduate years
when they're studying and when they've graduated - in our hospital system. And this is a proposal
to pay a direct subsidy to do that and to get more hospitals taking on our young trainees and to
also look at community settings where they can be appropriately trained as well.

JOE O'BRIEN: Will it mean better wages for nurses?

NICOLA ROXON: Look, it's not directly about the wages; it's the training time that we're talking
about. Unfortunately, with, you know, a decade of neglect in our hospitals, you've seen hospitals
getting really squeezed and not necessarily being able to prioritise dedicated training time and

So for us to invest in training more doctors and nurses, to put money into those staff that are
training them, means that it will deliver more nurses, more doctors, better conditions for them and
a much more supported training place, which means we get more highly skilled professionals at the
end of the day as well.

JOE O'BRIEN: Is one of the caveats on this funding that you'll take over hospitals if they don't
reform by the middle of next year?

NICOLA ROXON: Well, we made clear at the election that we were determined to take responsibility
for helping to fix the health system; and we made clear that we wanted to see reforms and outcomes
for our extra investments in the health system.

Clearly, this is, you know, twelve months of very detailed negotiations with the states. The
package involves a lot of reform. If this deal is signed on to, that is a good indication that the
states and territories do want to be partners with us to help improve the system.

We will still consider our position by the middle of next year to ensure that the states and
territories are interested in this reform, but tomorrow is a very big step along that way.

JOE O'BRIEN: So there is a chance that the Federal Government next year could move in and take over
some hospitals if they don't commit to this reform?

NICOLA ROXON: We made clear that we would be prepared to take financial responsibility for
hospitals if the states and territories didn't play ball with reforms.

And you would probably be aware we have a Health and Hospital Reform Commission reporting to us by
the middle of next year about these more complex financial arrangements and divisions between the
public and private system.

But tomorrow is a big health package that's being put on the table.

If it's signed up to it is a clear indication of the Commonwealth and the states being prepared to
work together to deliver better health services, more doctors, more nurses into our system.

And I think that will be a very important step along the way.

JOE O'BRIEN: Finally, Minister, this men's health ambassadors process was - ended up being a bit of
a mess; you've apologised for it. Why was the vetting process so poor?

NICOLA ROXON: Well, look, I think a bit of a mess is a polite way to put it. I have said I accept
responsibility for that. Sometimes we get these things wrong. But making sure that we do encourage
men to be more involved in looking after their health - men of all walks of life, men of all
backgrounds - is important. I'm sure we'll be able to get this back on track, it's too important
for us not to.

JOE O'BRIEN: Nicola Roxon, thanks for talking to us.

NICOLA ROXON: Thank you.