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Thursday, 12 October 1972
Page: 1498

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is to the Minister for Health. Has the Minister's attention been drawn to a report that last May the New South Wales Government appealed to the Commonwealth for urgent financial assistance in order to meet the mounting deficiencies in the New South Wales hospital system? Is this report correct? Will the Minister agree that there is a serious dearth of public hospital facilities in the outer metropolitan areas of Sydney and that it has not been possible to meet the adequate hospital needs of Sydney because of the inadequacy of Commonwealth funds allocated to New South Wales? What action, if any, has the Minister taken in consideration of the New South Wales Government's request?

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON - I cannot with precision refer to an alleged statement by the honourable senator about some representation that was made. I would not challenge that a representation was made because that is the sort of request that comes from all States under all heads of administration where the Commonwealth and States are in collaboration. I do know that in June of this year there was one of the traditional Premiers Conference and Loan Council gatherings and that on such occasions all these matters are dealt with. At these meetings every State raises issues in relation to all heads of expenditure. I would have no doubt that an arrangement was entered into between New South Wales and the Commonwealth, that New South Wales received additional finance and that hospital capital works would have been a feature in the allocation. There would not be any doubt about that, because that is the normal procedure, and it would not be unique to this year.

The distribution of hospital beds in New South Wales is quite clearly a State matter. My understanding is that there may well be a maldistribution of hospital centres in the metropolis but, there again, that is a State matter. In some parts of the metropolis there is a need for further development in hospital programmes and, as I understand the position, in other areas there may well be hospitals which are not being used to their optimum level. I repeat, because I would not like to think that any politics were involved in the question put to me, that that is clearly a State matter.

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