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Legislation disastrous for Australia's public health system.

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Senator Meg Lees

Australian Democrats

Parliamentary Leader



Legislation disastrous for Australia’s public health system



29 June, 1998


The Australian Democrats today called on the Government to re-open negotiations with the States on hospital funding.


“The current Medicare Agreements expire on June 30 and I am urging the Government to reconsider its funding offer before this deadline is reached,” said Democrats Leader, Senator Meg Lees.


“Legislation due to come before the Senate this week will leave the States with no guarantee of on-going funding and gives the Commonwealth increased powers to control when and how funding is allocated,” said Senator Lees.


For the first time ever in the history of Medicare there will be no 5 year agreements which bind the Commonwealth and States to an agreed level of funding for public hospitals.


“What people have to realise is that this includes the capacity to stop or reduce funding,” said Senator Lees.


“Regardless of Michael Wooldridge’s personal view, he won’t be able to prevent his Cabinet colleagues from taking this opportunity to pull more money out of public health.


“If the States are forced to cut back services, the people who will suffer the most will be people waiting for elective surgery, people in rural and remote areas where treatment costs are higher and older people discharged earlier from overcrowded hospitals.” she said.


“The Government’s repeated refusal to negotiate an agreement with the States is disastrous for Australia’s public health system.


The State Premiers have argued that the Commonwealth’s offer will leave them without funding for 1.4 million patients over the five year period. The AMA has also supported the need for increased funding, stating that waiting lists will double if higher health funding is not made available to the States.


“For the sake of all Australians, the Democrats call on the Prime Minister to let Michael Wooldridge go back to the States with a better, fairer offer,” said Senator Lees.


For further comment: John Schumann 0419 867 876

Senator Meg Lees 0418 804 505