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Wednesday, 21 April 1999
Page: 4025

Senator HERRON (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs) (3:03 PM) —Yesterday Senator Mackay asked me a question about Tasmanian health services and their funding, and I undertook to approach the minister to see whether there is any supplementary answer to provide. I seek leave to incorporate it in Hansard .

Leave granted.

The answer read as follows

SENATOR MACKAY—You may be aware that the Tasmanian government has in fact given up and was forced to sign in relation to the broken promises made by this government. In the light of this further broken commitment to the Tasmanian community, can the minister confirm that the initial offer made to the Rundle Liberal government was a pre-state election bribe? Can the Minister confirm that the Prime Minister never formally withdrew the first offer that he made? Isn't this just another example of this government's complete disregard to honouring promises made to the people of Tasmania?

The Tasmanian Premier, the Hon Jim Bacon MHA, wrote to the Prime Minister on 1 April 1999 agreeing to sign an Australian Health Care Agreement on the basis of the Commonwealth's offer of 5 August 1998 the same basis as those jurisdictions that entered into Agreements in August last year.

An Agreement has not yet been signed, and reports that it has been signed are incorrect.

Commonwealth and State officials are presently finalising several minor details, and I understand it is expected the Agreement will be signed some time over the next few weeks.

The Agreement will provide significant increased funding for Tasmania. Through a combination of Health Care Grants and the effect of the new Agreements on Financial Assistance Grants Tasmania will be $25.3 million better off in 1998-99 than 1997-98.