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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 10864


Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 30/06/1998

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 10864

The Commonwealth and Queensland Governments today reached agreement

in principle on the five year Australian Health Care Agreement to

commence on 1 July 1998.

This agreement is worth almost $5.5 billion to Queensland over

five years, including a first year value to Queensland in excess of

$1 billion, compared to the $4.3 billion over five years

provided under the current Labor Medicare Agreement.

Specific new funding elements of the five year Agreement for Queensland

include $24.5 million waiting lists funding programme in 1998-99

and $45 million from the National Development Fund for infrastructure

reform and development.

The people of Queensland will benefit immediately from extra money

available under the Commonwealth's Critical and Urgent Treatment

(CUT) Waiting Lists Incentive programme, and from the additional flexibility

that the Agreement provides to improve the quality of care and encourage

greater innovation in delivering health care services.

The Queensland Government will be able to use the immediate availability

of $15 million in this current financial year to further build

upon the achievements of the Surgery On Time strategy.

This determined approach has already lifted the proportion of urgent

(category one) patients that receive treatment within 30 days from

just 51% in 1995 to 99%, and is now aiming to provide treatment to

the 95% of all semi-urgent (category two) patients within the clinically

accepted 90-day period by 30 June 1998.

This would surpass the achievements of every other public hospital

system in Australia, and equal world-best practice in elective surgery

clearance times.

Queensland has a proud tradition of free public hospital treatment,

having been the first State to establish comprehensive free services

to the community in 1947.

The Australian Health Care Agreement will allow Queensland to build

on the strengths of its health care system and to enhance the availability

of important programmes in mental health, palliative care, veterans'

care and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

In recognition of the special and particular demands on the Queensland

health system arising from the Torres Strait Treaty and the proximity

of the border with Papua New Guinea, the Commonwealth will provide

$11 million over five years for further action in this area.

Additionally, in recognition of Queensland's early preparedness

to enter into an agreement, the Commonwealth is prepared to guarantee

immediate payments under the Critical and Urgent Treatment (CUT) Waiting

Lists Incentive program of $15 million in 1997-98.

The Commonwealth's offer has been adapted from the $933.5 million

base offer made at the Premier's Conference on 20 March 1998

to provide increased certainty in funding and to recognise Queensland's

health care priorities.

Queensland has been assured that it will not be disadvantaged by early

entry into the Agreement and will be treated on the same basis as

other States and Territories.

This undertaking guarantees that Queensland will receive its proportional

share should the Commonwealth subsequently decide to increase the

global funding that is offered under the Australian Health Care Agreements

to States and Territories.

A similar undertaking was provided to the ACT Chief Minister, Mrs Kate Carnell,

MLA, when her government signed an in principle agreement earlier

this year, and was honoured when the Commonwealth subsequently increased

its global offer at the meeting of Health Ministers on 10 March.

Queensland and other States which signed early during the negotiations

over the 1993 agreements were severely disadvantaged when the Keating

Government, in order to bribe the largest States into signing at the

eleventh hour on 30 June, gave NSW and Victoria an extra $150 million

a year and promptly reduced the Financial Assistance Grants to the

smaller States by the same amount.

The Commonwealth will also be moving to pay the full cost for treatment

provided to veteran Gold Card holders in Queensland public hospitals.

Dr Wooldridge and Mr Horan will hold further discussions to resolve

detailed issues and settle the wording of the Australian Health Care

Agreement to be signed by our governments.

Transcript 10864