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The communique of the Australian Health Care Summit.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

JOINT STATEMENT BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON SIMON CREAN MP, AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH JULIA GILLARD MP

The Communiqué of the Australian Health Care Summit

Labor built Medicare, and it has become a national icon. Medicare has been embraced by Australians because it embodies Australian values. Medicare is about fairness, about ensuring fair access to the health care that is based on need, not on ability to pay.

The Australian Health Care Summit brought together more than 250 health professionals. We both attended sections of the Summit, as did a number of Labor State Health Ministers. We were both struck by the real level of concern these health experts have about the current situation of our health system and the very grave fears they hold for its future.

Over the last three days, these experts have worked to point a way forward for our healthcare system. In particular, they have made a call to governments in the following terms:

‘Accordingly, we call on all governments:

• To discuss, as a matter of urgency, the health reform agenda at the forthcoming Council o Australian Governments meeting. f

t • To sign an interim Aus ralian Health Care Agreement for one year.

• To develop an intergovernmental mechanism for reform that includes consumers, clinicians and other health professionals.

• To develop with consumer, clinicians and other health professionals, the reform implementation agenda as the basis for the new mechanism using the outcomes of the reform agenda working groups and the outcomes of the Summit discussions.’

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Labor is prepared to respond positively to this call. Federal Labor will:

• Continue to press the Howard Government to put health on the agenda at COAG and to pursue cooperatively the vital reforms to our health system. Senator Patterson agreed to commence the reform process in April 2002, but she had been unable to bring it to a conclusion. The Labor State Premiers want to rescue the reform process, and the Prime Minister should heed their call to have health on the COAG agenda.

• Support the interim Australian Health Care Agreements to enable the reform process to be brought to a conclusion to provide a basis for the next five-year agreements.

• Press the Howard Government to develop an appropriate intergovernmental mechanism for reform. In our policy development processes, Labor will work in partnership with consumers, clinicians and other health professionals. In Government, Labor will implement a new federalism to save Australia’s most precious institution, Medicare, and to reform our health care system.

The real tragedy of the Health Summit is that Senator Patterson and the Howard Government have played politics, refused to attend and refused to listen. Labor believes the health of Australians is too important to be hostage to such pettiness. Senator Patterson and the Howard Government should stop trying to blackmail the States into signing flawed five-year agreements and should embrace the very positive outcomes of the Summit.

CANBERRA 19 AUGUST 2003

For further information contact:

Julia Gillard on 0417 361 637