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Monday, 24 May 1993
Page: 1073

Senator NEWMAN —My question is directed to the Minster for Health. I remind the Minister that during the election campaign the Government promised to expand the availability of palliative care services by $55 million. Will this pledge be implemented on 1 June, as promised, or is the Government to betray yet another commitment to the Australian community?

Senator RICHARDSON —As I am sure Senator Newman is aware, palliative care is ongoing; it is built into the old and the new Medicare agreements. We have already started discussions with the States on the palliative care promise. Money can be paid from 1 June, even if we have not come to an agreement by that date. So we do not regard that as significant. Talks with the private hospital sector begin this week, and the same principle will apply—we will be able to fund the promise from 1 June, even if the agreements are not in place by then.

Senator NEWMAN —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I specifically asked the Minister whether palliative care services will be increased by $55 million as promised. Was that implicit in his answer?

Senator RICHARDSON —The answer is yes.