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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 641

Mr DUTTON (3:15 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister confirm to all Australians that the 50-50 growth funding proposal for public hospitals will not commence until 2017—that is, 10 years after Labor first promised to fix public hospitals? As the government’s promise not to introduce the carbon tax did not last 10 weeks, why would anyone believe that a promise from this government would last 10 years?

Ms GILLARD (Prime Minister) —What I can say to the member and what I can absolutely confirm is that the track record of the Howard government when it came to a percentage of public hospital funding was all one way: down, down, down. Under this government and under our health reform proposals, it is all one way: up, up, up. It is an increased percentage from the federal government, because we care about public hospitals. Gone are the days of the Leader of the Opposition ripping a billion dollars out.

What we are doing to the end of this decade is investing more than $16 billion extra in growth funds. That comes on top of having increased the Australian healthcare agreements by 50 per cent. It comes on top of making resources available for elective surgery to get through waiting lists—and that has financed, I believe, around 70,000 procedures. It comes on top of the amount of money that we have made available to upgrade emergency departments. It comes on top of the investments we have made in primary care, like GP superclinics. It comes on top of reversing our shortage of doctors by getting doctors into training. We were short of doctors, courtesy of the Leader of the Opposition, and we have moved to address that. We will train 6,000 doctors by the end of this decade. It comes on top of our investment in increased nursing places; we are training around 1,000 new nurses each year. I am very proud of those investments, which are making a difference.

We are making sure that money is not given without reform. There are no blank cheques. States will need to reform their systems—one transparent national pool, so you will know where the money goes. That is something the Leader of the Opposition could never have achieved, and indeed did not have the wit to dream of. Local hospital networks are another thing the Leader of the Opposition did not achieve and did not have the wit to dream of. This comes on top of making sure that around the country we know where efficient prices are being obtained—where there is no waste. Once again, the Leader of the Opposition does not have the reform drive to bring our market based tools to bear on a system like the healthcare system.

So I say to the shadow minister who asked the question that perhaps, rather than coming into question time asking questions like this, he would be better off seeing if he can think of a healthcare plan, because at some point people are going to turn to the shadow minister and say, ‘Well, if you are carping about the government’s plan—with its $16 billion, with its 50 per cent funding, with its transparency, with its efficient price, with its new standards, with its less waiting time, with its less waste, with its less red tape, with its more money, with its more doctors, with its more nurses and with its more investment in primary care—what is your plan?’ We will be awaiting the answer from the shadow minister for health, because we have not heard one yet.