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Election 2007: Prime Minister announces further health policies; says there are 12 days left before the election instead of nine.

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Thur sday 15 November 2007

Election 2007: Prime Minister announces further health policies; says there are 12 days left before the election instead of nine


MARK COLVIN: The election is a mer e nine days away now but that's been news to the Prime Minister today. 


12 days away is what John Howard has been advising, as he gears up for the political fight of his life on November the 24th. 


The numbers slip, which incidentally is a repetition of one he made on yesterday's AM, came during a particularly boisterous press conference in Cairns, designed to outline a Coalition health policy worth a quarter of a billion dollars.  


Karen Barlow is travelling with the Prime Minister and she filed this report. 


KAREN BARLOW: John Howard didn't visit Cairns Private Hospital today for an electoral check up. Still the staff greeting him got this diagnosis. 


JO: How's it going? 


JOHN HOWARD: It's going well Jo. 


JO: Good, I'm glad to hear it. 


KAREN BARLOW: That was until John Howard explained the Coalition's health policies to the waiting media.  


Even before he was asked questions he was getting his figures wrong. 


JOHN HOWARD: Because economic management is central to the last 12 days of this election campaign. 


KAREN BARLOW: Outlining a quarter of a billion dollar policy to take pressure off public hospitals, most of which had already been announced, Mr Howard got his days wrong again as he spoke about how it should be jointly funded by the states and territories. 


JOHN HOWARD: It is not easy to get agreement with State Labor governments 12 days from an election, when they're doing everything they can to help their Federal colleagues get elected and thus complete the Labor lock up of Australia. 


KAREN BARLOW: A little later, the assembled media sought to correct him. 


JOURNALIST: Mr Howard you keep saying we're 12 days out, do you know something that we don't? Are you counting sleeps right? 


ADVISOR: (whispers) It's nine. 


JOHN HOWARD: Beg your pardon? 


JOURNALIST: Are you counting the sleeps differently to the way we are? 


JOHN HOWARD: Laughs…Oh, whatever you like, nine yes, OK. Big point! Knock out blow!! 


(Sound of media scrum) 


KAREN BARLOW: All in all it was prolonged, loud grilling from the travelling media pack, which John Howard appeared to blame on the weather.  


JOHN HOWARD: Whoa, this is…gee this is really boisterous. What is it, is it the far north Queensland humidity is it? 


MALE JOURNALIST: Has Mr Rudd boxed you in on spending commitments and are we likely to see any promises from you in the next week? 


JOHN HOWARD: I think anybody who comes from a party that has fought tooth and nail to deny budget surplus outcomes for 11.5 years in incapable of ever boxing me in on fiscal responsibility.  


KAREN BARLOW: Of the new elements to the Coalition's health policy there is $117-million over four years to get thousands more older people out of hospitals and into more appropriate care.  


JOHN HOWARD: that will free up beds, because it will mean that people who would otherwise stay in hospital and occupy a bed that's needed for more acute care, will go into one of these transition places. 


KAREN BARLOW: And at cost of $86-million over four years, the Coalition is promising about 4,000 places for at home elderly care, which it says will free up 1,000 aged care beds in the community. 


MARK COLVIN: Karen Barlow.