MORE RE­PORTS

The Weekend Australian - - FRONT PAGE - JOE KELLY

La­bor pre­miers Daniel An­drews and Jay Weather­ill have re­jected Malcolm Turn­bull’s $30 bil­lion hos­pi­tals fund­ing boost, prompt­ing fed­eral Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt to ac­cuse them of “short­chang­ing pa­tients”.

The Coun­cil of Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ments meet­ing in Canberra yes­ter­day was dom­i­nated by the Prime Min­is­ter’s pro­posed $30bn in­crease in pub­lic hos­pi­tal fund­ing over five years from 2020.

Mr Turn­bull won sup­port for the hos­pi­tal fund­ing deal from West Aus­tralian La­bor Premier Mark McGowan and Lib­eral NSW Premier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian.

Un­der the hos­pi­tal fund­ing pack­age, the com­mon­wealth pays 45 per cent of hos­pi­tal funds and caps an­nual spend­ing growth at 6.5 per cent.

Mr McGowan said he would have liked more money on the ta­ble but warned that Western Aus­tralia’s poor share of the GST carve-up meant he had lit­tle choice but to ac­cept the com­mon­wealth’s of­fer.

“To have po­ten­tially put at risk fund­ing for health for Western Aus­tralia’s hos­pi­tals was not some­thing I was pre­pared to do,” he said.

Mr Weather­ill, the South Aus­tralian Premier, said the pro­posal fell short of the 50 per cent in com­mon­wealth fund­ing pro­posed by the for­mer Rudd and Gil­lard gov­ern­ments, with the La­bor leader also tak­ing aim at the gov­ern­ment over its cor­po­rate tax cuts.

“Im­por­tant back­ground to any dis­cus­sion about health and ed­u­ca­tion is the $80bn cut out of health and ed­u­ca­tion back in 2014,” he said.

“You re­mem­ber the ar­gu­ment at the time was that we couldn’t af­ford it, but ap­par­ently now we can af­ford $65bn worth of com­pany tax cuts.”

Mr An­drews said the deal did not pro­vide “suf­fi­cient fund­ing to en­sure ev­ery Vic­to­rian gets the care that they need”.

Queens­land Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk opened the door to sup­port­ing the new fund­ing agree­ment if the state re­ceived back-pay from the com­mon­wealth of about $170 mil­lion aris­ing from ab­nor­mal cost in­creases in state health ser­vices.

The com­mon­wealth is obliged to cover a por­tion of these cost in­creases, with the In­de­pen­dent Hos­pi­tal Pric­ing Au­thor­ity and the Na­tional Health Fund­ing Body analysing price spikes between 2014 and 2016, with a re­port due in months.

“We are owed about $170m. If that is forth­com­ing, we would be sat­is­fied,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Mr Hunt said Mr An­drews had “turned his back” on more than $7bn in ex­tra fund­ing for Vic­to­rian hos­pi­tals while Mr Weather­ill had missed out on more than $1.5bn.

Mr Turn­bull said the com­mon­wealth pro­posal was “gen­er­ous” and an agree­ment on pub­lic hos­pi­tals fund­ing would be reached by the end of the year.

He said NSW and Vic­to­ria had also in­di­cated their in­ten­tion to sell their Snowy Hy­dro stakes to the com­mon­wealth.

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