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Wednesday, 22 August 2001
Page: 29967


Mr BEAZLEY (Leader of the Opposition) (2:17 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister and it follows an answer that he gave previously on the subject of the attitudes of Ian Castles. Isn't it a fact that the Commonwealth agreed to the appointment of Ian Castles as the independent arbiter to resolve the dispute over the correct way to index payments under the Australian health care agreements? Isn't it a fact that the arbiter recommended that payments should be increased by CPI plus an extra one-half per cent, but you have refused to accept his recommendation and have unilaterally adopted the lower wage cost index one? Doesn't this refusal to adopt Ian Castles's recommendation leave the states short each and every year—and this shortfall is now over $200 million a year?


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —The answer is no, because subsequent to that decision we made other decisions which forgave money to the states that should have been refunded because of the rise in private health insurance. When you set the one off the other, the states are $2 billion better off.