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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18392

Ms GILLARD (2:00 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware that the proposed new hospital funding agreements contain a clause—clause 37—that overrides the agreements that each state has with the Department of Veterans' Affairs and would require the states to pay for the medical treatment that veterans receive as public hospital patients? Why is the Commonwealth requiring the states to take on this responsibility when veterans were previously the sole responsibility of the Commonwealth? Will you rule out any changes to current funding for veterans' health through the Department of Veterans' Affairs that would pressure veterans to seek treatment as public patients and ignore their status as gold card holders?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the honourable member for the question. Before answering the detail of it I will have a look at the agree-ment. I have not seen the detail of the agree-ment. I take the opportunity to assert and confirm to the House that we will continue to maintain in full the policy commitments that we have made to Australia's veterans.