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Tuesday, 11 September 1984
Page: 774

Senator BOSWELL —I refer the Minister for Social Security to an answer he gave yesterday to a question from a Queensland senator regarding the Queensland public hospital system. Is the Minister aware that the Federal Budget figures for this financial year show that the Queensland allocation, including the so- called special grant, is $114.2m, or $46.61 a head, whereas the average payment to the other States is $65 a head? Does this mean that Queensland is being ripped off to subsidise those interstate or does it mean that the other States are paying more than they should to cover the Medicare deficit, which is reported to be $134m?

Senator GRIMES —No, it does not mean that. Queensland, as Senator Boswell knows, received a special subsidy to make up for the fact that it has always had a free public health service. Queensland has chosen, apparently, not to use that subsidy to upgrade its inadequate public health service. As the Minister for Health, Dr Blewett, has pointed out on many occasions, Queensland receives more than its share of the Medicare levy to compensate for the fact that it had contributed to health care in the past. The amount it receives is calculated to ensure that it is not disadvantaged by Medicare. The campaign waged by people such as Senator Boswell and Mr Bjelke-Petersen to give the impression that Queensland is inadequately compensated is nothing more than a campaign to disguise the fact that Queenslanders are being short-changed by their own Government in regard to the funds they receive from the Commonwealth to compensate for Medicare.