Wednesday, 22 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, Senator McKenzie. Reports indicate that the Minister for Health voted for Peter Dutton in the leadership ballot against Prime Minister Turnbull. Can the minister confirm that, as health minister, Peter Dutton oversaw $50 billion in cuts to hospitals? Does the Minister for Health support a return to Mr Dutton's policies?
Senator Polley, I can assure you that our government is absolutely committed to continuing to deliver record health funding across every state and territory every year over the forward estimates, as far as the eye can see. If I think about the $130.2 billion in public hospitals, we've increased that by $30 billion—as I said, record funding in each and every state and territory each and every single year. Australian government funding for public hospital activity will increase from $100 billion in 2015-16 to over $130 billion in 2020-21. This will fund more services, more operations, more doctors and more nurses in each and every public hospital in each and every state and territory. Importantly, that—on top of our $550 million investment in the stronger rural workforce strategy—means Australians, no matter where they live in this country, will have access to high-quality, domestically trained doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. We don't make an apology for standing up for better service provision—essential services that Australians need and deserve when it comes to health.
On 1 July 2017, the National Health Reform Agreement addendum commenced. It was signed and agreed by all state and territory premiers and health ministers, and it continues to be based on hospital service activity, with Commonwealth funding capped at 6.5 per cent annual funding growth and 45 per cent of the efficient price of hospital services.
I hear this chant, this noise from the left, ranting and raving and misunderstanding completely how the $130 billion of hospital funding being given to state governments is to be disbursed. It's their decision. (Time expired)
This may be an easier question for the minister: can the minister confirm that, as health minister, Peter Dutton proposed a $7 GP co-payment? Does the Minister for Health support a return to Mr Dutton's policies?
We have a strong policy of decreasing the costs to Australian families, singles and pensioners when it comes to accessing high-quality health care across this country. It is why we've instigated the MBS review scheme, which is looking at out-of-pocket costs across a range—
Senator Polley, you've reminded the minister of your supplementary question. I note two things. The minister has 40 seconds remaining to answer but, listening carefully, I did consider the minister to be directly relevant to the issue you raised. I can't instruct the minister how to answer a question, as long as the answer is directly relevant.
Direct relevance. The question was whether or not the Minister for Health supports a return to Mr Dutton's policies, including the $7 GP co-payment. I don't know what the Labor Party's policy has to do—
I'm sorry. I got so excited about outlining our health policy. I'm happy to say we are not returning to a co-payment in this government. We are driving down costs for Australians' health provision across the board. As I go to the Labor Party's policy and how that will impact out-of-pocket costs, your policy on private health insurance will drive up costs for Australians by 16 per cent.
I refer to the Australian Doctor magazine which, in 2015, rated Peter Dutton as the worst health minister in nearly four decades. Why does the Minister for Health think the worst health minister in four decades would make a good Prime Minister?
Honourable senators interjecting—