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Transcript 17669

Transcript of interview with Keith Conlon and John Kenneally, 5AA

Photo of Gillard, Julia

Gillard, Julia

Period of Service: 24/06/2010 to 27/06/2013

More information about Gillard, Julia on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 14/02/2011

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 17669

HOST: Good morning, Prime Minister.

PM: Good morning. I think I've cut someone short, have I?

HOST: Yeah, but we're really pleased you have.

PM: OK, I'm glad I've come in handy.

HOST: Welcome to the Adelaide airwaves.

PM: Thank you.

HOST: It's a big reform to get our heads around, and it sounds like there's still a lot of detail to sort out. You know Australians hate bureaucracy, but you've got a new one.

PM: I understand Australians look and want to see the most money possible going into healthcare, and I share that. That's why the agreement we struck yesterday is going to provide $16.4 billion more to the end of this decade.

Actually, this agreement sweeps a whole lot of bureaucracy away. Last year, an agreement was struck where there would be a new, national funding body and then there would be an individual bureaucracy - a new one - in every State and Territory.

This agreement sweeps all those State-based bureaucracies away, Territory-based bureaucracies. They're all gone.

What we've got is a national funding body so that the money in health is really clear.

I know a lot of Australians are worried from time to time that one level of government is putting more money into health but somehow it's leaking away and, you know, money is being taken out by another level of government and no-one's clear what's happening. From now on, with this new funding body you'll be able to see every dollar going in and where it is going to, and we are going to drive, through this agreement, more beds, more local control, more transparency, and of course there's more funding.

HOST: One of the issues about dealing with dollars, health dollars, is are we getting bang for our buck? What is this efficient price that you talk about?

PM: Bang for the buck is a good way of thinking about it. If you look at all of the things that happen in our hospitals, you know, say, hip operations, what does it cost to have a hip operation done in a hospital?

Well, there is a price for that which is a price meaning everybody is doing their job efficiently, and there is an amount you could pay for that which would be inclusive of a whole lot of waste, a whole lot of costs that could be cut, if the hospital was operating more efficiently. So, to drive efficiencies, we will be paying on the basis of an efficient price, and because of the transparency - a bit like My School, which obviously I drove as Education Minister - you will be able to see hospitals that are doing it really well being even more efficient than the standard of the efficient price. You will be able to see hospitals doing it badly, and then we can step in and fix that underperformance.

HOST: Prime Minister, I guess all operations are different. Who determines what's an efficient price for a procedure?

PM: We will have health experts who determine that efficient price, and of course people are different. Approaches to surgery, though, have a lot of things in common in terms of who you need in there doing what, and so it is possible to work through and deal with these pricing questions.

HOST: A lot of people saw a giant flaw in the previous national attempt to fix health - no mental health in there. Our Premier has asked for it. When's he gonna get it?

PM: Yes, Premier Rann certainly raised mental health yesterday and I'm very, very glad he did. We are committed, now, at the next meeting of leaders, the next Council of Australian Governments meeting, to have a session on mental health where we will be addressed by experts from the field - people like Pat McGorry, who was Australian of the Year last year. So, we do want to focus on mental health, but let's remember that if we are improving our hospitals and improving care in the community then we are improving circumstances for people with mental health.

A lot of times in emergency departments, people are there because they've got mental health problems which haven't been properly managed in the community. I am committed to new investments in primary care and better coordination of services, and that really matters for people with complex conditions like many mental health conditions, where they need to see more than one health professional and they need to get a coordinated package of care to help them through.

HOST: Prime Minister Julia Gillard with us, talking about the national health reform that was thrashed out over many hours in Canberra yesterday.

The other thing that isn't there, we understand, is aged care, and you know that we have a blockage in our hospitals because we can't get elderly people into aged care. When and where do you fix that?

PM: Well, the agreement yesterday will make a big difference for that, and this has been central to the blame game between the Federal Government and State governments, something people would have seen year in, year out when Premiers used to come to Premiers' meetings with Prime Minister Howard and they would say ‘you're not properly funding aged care, it's causing a problem for our public hospitals', and it would never get resolved.

Inherent in yesterday's agreement, a key part of it, is that as Prime Minister I have agreed with the States and Territories that we will be an equal partner in the growth in costs in public hospitals. So, 50 per cent of it comes onto my books, 50 per cent of it goes onto their books.

What that means is I have the incentive to get aged care right. With me paying 50 per cent of the growth, it is not in my interests to have a frail, aged Australian unnecessarily in an acute hospital bed when I could have done better for them in the community.

HOST: Prime Minister, I know your next commitment is coming up. The Opposition said ‘we won't see a lot of this money until 2017 plus.' What do you tell us about when the money starts?

PM: Well, that's just a load of nonsense.

Already we are providing 1,300 more beds. Already we have provided 70,000 more elective surgery procedures. Already we have provided 250,000 services from GP Super Clinics. Already we are upgrading emergency departments around the country.

Then, from 1 July, people will see further changes. They will see local hospital networks start, so they'll have more local control and more say. They'll see a GP afterhours access line start so they can get help in the middle of the night when a kid's sick and it's really fraught and people are really anxious. They'll see our GP telehealth investment start to come online so we can use the power of new technology, particularly for people in regional and remote communities.

These investments are flowing and making a difference for healthcare now. We are training 1,000 more nurses a year, training 6,000 more doctors to the end of the decade. That makes a difference when people need care, so that they can get a professional they need.

And let's remember we are coming back from an environment where the current Leader of the Opposition, as a long-serving Health Minister, took $1 billion out of public hospitals and cut GP training places so we're short of doctors and we've been short of money.

We are fixing that.

HOST: However, the Opposition Leader says this is a big win for the Premiers and a humiliating backdown for you, the Prime Minister.

PM: You know what's really funny about that is the Opposition Leader went out and did a press conference to tell Australians how bad this all was before the agreement was even finished. He didn't wait to see it, he didn't wait to read it, he just said ‘no, it's no good.'

Well, that's opposition for opposition's sake, and frankly, it's what we've come to expect from Mr Abbott - anything I say, he will be opposed to. He won't even take the time or the trouble to read the details.

HOST: Prime Minister, thanks for joining us today.

PM: Thank you.

Transcript 17669