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Transcript 17670

Transcript of interview with Lyndal Curtis, ABC AM

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: 17670

HOST: Julia Gillard, you say this health deal will last but the last one only lasted for 10 months. Why will this one go for longer?PM: This is a truly national health deal. Every Premier, every Chief Minister signed yesterday to deliver this deal. I went into that room wanting to get a better deal for patients and, importantly, get a better deal for patients right around the country. I didn't want one State or one Territory left behind.

So, we've got a deal for the whole country, every Premier, every Chief Minister having signed the deal yesterday.HOST: It has been signed but it is far from delivered. The fine details are still to be worked out. Why won't, in six months' time when you want to do that, the Premiers come back and say, ‘well, no, we've got more problems with it'?PM: Yesterday Premiers and Chief Ministers signed a deal which is very clear about more money flowing to our public hospitals, about the Federal Government and State governments being partners in growth, about more transparency, a national body, a national pool making clear to every Australian the money that's being spent on health and who's providing it, whether it's coming from the Federal Government or from State governments.More local control was part of the deal signed onto yesterday, also very important so communities get a say in their health services. This is part of what was directly agreed yesterday.HOST: And those details won't change when the fine details are nutted out in six months' time?PM: We got an agreement signed yesterday. Sure, fine details have to be nutted out. Take, for example, the national body, the national pool that will guarantee transparency. Yesterday we agreed to put that into law. The details of that legislation have to be typed up and worked through, you'd expect that, but yesterday's agreement was signed by every Chief Minister and every Premier in the room, as well as by me as Prime Minister.HOST: It took Kevin Rudd an extra several billion dollars to get the States to sign on last April. How much extra money did you have to kick into the kitty to get them to sign on yesterday?PM: I made it very clear to the States and Territories that we were going to provide growth money of $16.4 billion but only provide it in return for reform, so that was the funding envelope available yesterday. It's a funding envelope that is the same as the deal last year, but obviously these arrangements are different.I've got away from the GST. I didn't want the nation endlessly talking about financing. I wanted to focus on health reform and a better deal for patients and that's what we have succeeded in achieving.HOST: But you had to bring forward some payments which were intended as reward payments to the States, didn't you?PM: As part of yesterday's meeting we signed this major health reform agreement. We also signed an agreement about waiting times in emergency departments.I don't want people waiting unnecessarily for treatment and far too often Australians do wait, so, as part of securing those targets and that agreement, we did bring forward some money that was in the Government's budget anyway, but we will pay it more quickly to help States and Territories progress towards those targets.HOST: How long will it be before a parent can take their child into emergency and not have to wait for more than four hours, or a pensioner on an elective surgery waiting list for a hip replacement can reasonably expect to get that surgery delivered when they're told it will be done?PM: Well, what I can say is already, through working with the States and Territories, we have delivered 70,000 more elective surgery procedures, so that matters for the person who needs the hip replacement. We've delivered 250,000 services through our GP super clinics, so that matters for people who need to see a health professional in their community.We are training 1,000 more nurses a year. We are training 6,000 more doctors to the end of this decade. We are upgrading emergency departments around the country. We have provided 1,300 new beds.

Now, all of this is a start.On 1 July people will see some important things changing in their health system. We'll start with local hospital networks, more local control. People will see Medicare locals start to be rolled out, better coordination of the care that they need in their local communities so people don't fall through the gaps and the holes. They will see a GP afterhours access line - very important if your child gets sick in the middle of the night and they'll see our telehealth initiatives come on stream as well.HOST: But how long will it take before those benchmarks, those targets, those things the States have to deliver, like 4-hour waiting times in emergency, are delivered across the board?PM: Yesterday we signed an agreement which deals with the progressive phase-in of targets. Yes, it is going to be difficult to reach those targets. It's not easy.In order to take pressure off emergency departments we need to make sure that, first instance, primary care in the community is working right. We need to make sure that aged care is working right.But the important thing about yesterday's deal is because the Federal Government is now stepping up to being a partner in growth in the costs of public hospitals, we have the right incentive to make sure people get treatment in the community when they can, when that is the best thing for them.HOST: This deal changed from the plan that Kevin Rudd nutted out. Instead of the Commonwealth being the dominant funder it's now sharing costs, sharing the costs of the growth funding 50/50 with the states.Who sets the level for that 50 per cent to be matched? Does the Commonwealth say, ‘this is how much we are kicking in' and the States match it, or do the States decide?PM: An independent body decides what is the efficient price for a service. Now, that sounds like a lot of jargon, I know, but if you imagine, what does it really cost to do a hip operation? An independent body will work out what that price is, what that efficient price is. We'll pay half of the growth and the States will pay half of the growth.What that means is we will see through our transparency measures who is doing well and who is doing badly.HOST: And it will effectively be demand driven as patients turn up? That's when the cost will be decided?PM: It will be demand driven. This is uncapped growth, so if the number of operations, the level of activity rises, then the level of funding will rise. So, the $16.4 billion agreed yesterday is a minimum in that sense. It's factored against our predicted levels of activity, but if that's higher then more money will be paid.But I do want to come back to this efficient price and transparency point. It's really important. By striking the efficient price and then having transparency through the national pool, the national body that was agreed yesterday, a bit like My School, we will be able to see who is doing well and who is doing badly.

If people are being inefficient, then we will be able to step in and get it fixed. If people are doing really well then hospitals around the country can look to that hospital and say, what are they doing better than us that we can learn from?

HOST: You say your deal takes an axe to red tape, but Kevin Rudd said that about his deal. Why is yours better?

PM: Well, the arrangements from last year ended up with nine different bureaucracies, a national bureaucracy and then one in each State and Territory. What I've done is swept eight of them away. We will have one national body, one national pool.

HOST: Did Mr Rudd express his displeasure at your deal when it was talked about in Cabinet?PM: Look, I'm not going to go to Cabinet conversations but I have seen some reports and some rumours here which are all pretty silly. Kevin participated in the Cabinet meeting, as did his other Cabinet colleagues, and then he had a plane to catch.HOST: But given that he had, that you were axing central parts of his deal, particularly the dominant funding, would it be unsurprising if he was a little unhappy?PM: Cabinet always has good discussions. We work through details, we focus on what we need to do-HOST: -Somewhat robustly?PM: -but what happens in Cabinet is confidential and once again I've seen some chatter about this in the newspapers. We had a Cabinet discussion. Kevin needed to go and catch a plane.HOST: Given that there was that chatter, someone is obviously leaking, if incorrectly in some terms, from Cabinet. The latest polls show your primary vote down to 32 per cent. Tony Abbott's given his troops a talking to about leaking. Given your Government's standing in the latest polls, do you need to give your troops a talking to as well?PM: I speak to our Labor Caucus every time the Parliament meets and every time I speak to my colleagues what I say is we've got a lot of hard work to do. We've got a lot of hard work to do to get on and to make sure our country is as fair as it can be, as prosperous as it can be in the future. I am driven by a passion for making sure every Australian gets the benefit of opportunity.In order to do that we have got to make sure government services are supporting Australians, and health is really critical. We took a big step forward yesterday with a better deal for patients.HOST: You got the States to sign on to health but you are still working on the numbers for your flood levy. Steve Fielding has apparently signed on but you haven't got Tony Windsor yet. Are you still short of the numbers in both houses?PM: I'll keep working through, talking to the independents about the flood levy, so I'll keep working through with the Independents but let's remember we are in this position because Tony Abbott, without a plan, without numbers that add up, with no idea how he would support the rebuilding of the nation, has decided in the interests of politics to vote against the levy and I would maintain to Mr Abbott it is time for him to focus on the national interest. The national interest requires delivering the flood levy, making the cuts to the Government's budget and getting $5.6 billion out there to rebuild from all the damage.HOST: Prime Minister, thank you very much for your time.PM: Thank you.

Transcript 17670