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Statement by the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson.

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Media Release

Senator the Hon Kay Patterson Minister for Health and Ageing


February 18, 2003

I have today informed the Chair of the Australian Health Ministers' Conference that I will not be attending a meeting of Health Ministers in Melbourne on Friday about the next Australian Health Care Agreements.

In connection with this proposed meeting, I recently received a letter from State and Territory Ministers, which referred to a reform agenda, but was more like a 'log of claims'. Generally the States and Territories are demanding more money from the Commonwealth, and of course there is nothing new in this.

It said nothing about what the States and Territories will commit to health spending, despite the fact that I have asked States and Territories to tell us what they will put on the table.

I remind the States that the Howard Government has funded the current Agreements at a record level of $31.7 billion over the past five years. This delivered a real increase in funding, above the cost of inflation, to the States of 28%. Our commitment to public hospitals has been demonstrated.

The Commonwealth has not yet finalised its position on the next Australian Health Care Agreement. The current agreement runs until the end of June this year, giving the States and the Commonwealth sufficient time to finalise the next agreement.

For further information contact Randal Markey, Media Adviser, 0417 694 520