Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Rudd to honour delayed promise on health -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

MARK COLVIN: Nearly nine months after he promised it the Prime Minister will reveal the blueprint
for hospital and health funding tomorrow. He's sticking by his pre-election policy to demand the
agreement of the states and territories, or let the people decide if the Federal Government should
take over the hospital system.

Even before the policy is out the Opposition is warning that it will create an extra unnecessary
layer of bureaucracy.

Chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis reports.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Trying to squeeze a few more days' coverage out of the announcement of the national
curriculum the Government says has been 110 years in the making, the Education Minister and Deputy
Prime Minister Julia Gillard took to a Canberra school to show how it's done.

JULIA GILLARD: I'm here today with my ministerial colleague Andrew Barr to announce that there will
be 10 schools in the Australian Capital Territory that will trial parts of the national curriculum.
And over the coming few days we will announce the names of schools in other jurisdictions
participating in trialling the national curriculum.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And she stayed on message as she took part in a concerted Government attack on the
Coalition's brief under Tony Abbott to be more oppositionist.

JULIA GILLARD: Block, whinge, moan but no positive ideas. And we certainly saw that spectacularly
in the last 24 hours about national curriculum where the Liberal Party without even stopping to
really read or analyse the national curriculum has just said they'll tear it apart.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But the Government is gazumping its own message on curriculum with a much bigger
reform. Having engaged in acts of contrition over his failure to meet expectations the Prime
Minister has announced this afternoon that he will finally make good on the biggest undelivered
promise tomorrow - this one promised before the 2007 election.

KEVIN RUDD: Our plan for the future is then for 18 months to sit down with the states and
territories and eliminate the duplication and overlap in acute hospital beds, aged care beds,
accident emergency, GP clinics. And then mental health, dental health and disabilities.

And if we can't get there in the end a plan which says this: we will go to the Australian people
and ask for a mandate for the Commonwealth to take over long funding responsibility for our
hospitals.

That is a Labor plan where the Prime Minister of the country says I am prepared to put up my hand
and say on health and hospitals, the buck stops with me.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The plan has been a long time in the making. When Labor came to power it
commissioned a report on health and hospital reform. That was handed down last year with more than
120 recommendations. The Prime Minister and his health ministers then went on a consultation
roadshow at hospitals around Australia.

The announcement of the plan has been imminent for the last couple of weeks. Health organisations
have been rife with speculation of its impending arrival. And last week Mr Rudd dropped in on a
meeting scheduled between the Health Minister and the Australian Medical Association.

But his office took to the social media site Twitter this afternoon to say the plan would be
delivered tomorrow even if the Prime Minister had been cagey about the timing earlier in the day.

KEVIN RUDD: Look there's been a thousand different speculations out there in recent times over what
might or might not be in our proposal to reform the health and hospital system for the future.
We'll release this in our own good time. We're still tying off some details with states and
territories.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Health and Hospital Reform Commission found the current system is unlikely to be
sustainable without reform. Added to that the intergenerational report found that in the next 40
years health costs will exceed 100 per cent of the tax revenues of the states.

It's likely tomorrow's announcement will see a single national funding authority for hospitals set
up with money tipped in by both the Commonwealth and the states. The states would be under threat
of having their GST revenue clawed back if they don't meet their end of the bargain.

There's also likely to be some form of regional health authority set up and better control by local
hospitals of their own operations.

The aim as outlined in the health commission report is to drive efficiency likely to be through the
handing out of funding what is known as an activity-based or case-mix system; looking at the number
of patients treated, what they're treated for and the average cost of that treatment.

The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is already unhappy.

TONY ABBOTT: It strikes me as not so much a national takeover but a bureaucrat takeover. It's not
the Prime Minister taking control of the system but it's the Prime Minister handing over control of
the system to the bureaucracy. And that concerns me greatly.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But Mr Rudd says he's jumped the gun.

KEVIN RUDD: Talk about being trigger happy with criticism. Can I just suggest to Mr Abbott and the
Liberal Party - take a deep breath and just wait for a policy to be released.

LYNDAL CURTIS: It may be that Mr Abbott, who has already called for hospitals to be run by local
hospital boards, may actually like some of what's to be unveiled tomorrow.

The scope of the Government's health reforms will be broader than just hospitals. The Government is
also expected to deliver major reforms to primary care and aged care although those areas may wait
for announcements to come in the weeks ahead, letting the Government squeeze more days of coverage
out of a story it hopes will be positive.

MARK COLVIN: Lyndal Curtis.