Rudd gets ACT support on health plan

Victoria and Western Australia look to be heading to Monday’s COAG meeting on hospital funding with demands that PM Rudd may find too great, while NSW and Queensland appear unlikely to budge on the GST issue.


But the PM today cemented reports from both South Australia and the ACT – and he will need all the support he can get.

The ACT today signed on to the federal government’s health and hospitals reform plan, with ACT chief minister John Stanhope and Rudd on Saturday saying they had come to an agreement on the controversial overhaul of the nation’s health system.

Mr Rudd wants all states and territories to sign on to his plan by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on Monday.

“I’m more than happy today to commit to the national health agreement that the prime minister will be bringing to COAG,” Mr Stanhope told reporters after his meeting with Mr Rudd at the Lodge in Canberra.

NSW’s Keneally holding on to GST cash

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally is determined to retain control of a third of the state’s GST revenue, ahead of Monday’s COAG meeting.

After a cabinet meeting on Friday, Ms Keneally indicated she was 90 per cent behind Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s ambitious plan.

However, she is opposed to three aspects of his proposal, making it unlikely Monday’s meeting will run smoothly.

“It’s my hope that if we can’t resolve everything on Monday, that we don’t let it fail at the first hurdle, simply because all of that complexity hasn’t been resolved,” she told Sky News on Saturday.

Funding mechanism breaches prior agreement

The sticking point, Ms Keneally said, was the funding mechanism of Mr Rudd’s health reform plan.

A main concern is for her to be able to dedicate a third of her state’s GST revenue to health, however Mr Rudd wants the states and territories to sign up to a deal that would see him control 30 per cent of their GST revenue.

“It would be very difficult for us to contemplate a retention of GST funds by the Commonwealth,” she said.

“It breaks apart the inter-governmental agreement we all signed up to just over a year and a half ago.”

Ms Keneally also wants $686 million to pay for initiatives proposed by the Commonwealth in elective surgery and emergency departments.

“We want three things,” she insisted.

“We want more money to come into the system now.

“We want an absolute guarantee from the Commonwealth that the money they say we’ll get after 2014/15 will come.”

She added she wanted NSW to retain a third of its GST revenue for health.

Rann hits out on twitter

Reports this morning suggest that Victoria’s John Brumby is gathering support for his anti-takeover campaign, with AAP suggesting every capital was against the PM.

“The premiers and chief ministers held a phone hook-up on Friday when they resolved to push Canberra to let them to run their own hospital funds, a source close to a premier told AAP”, the organisation reported.

But South Australian Premier Mike Rann hit back on his Twitter account on Saturday morning.

“Just saw news report on my phone that ‘all other States’ support Vic and WA mutiny over PM’s health reforms. Totally wrong”, Rann said.

AAP reported that a model ‘agreed to by the states’, would see states and territories contributing to an individual hospital funding pool with the federal government.

But Rann, vocal in his support of the plan from Canberra and fresh from a close-fought election win, wasn’t having any of it.

“Incorrect AAP report quotes ‘a source close to a Premier.’ I wonder which one?”, Rann went on to tweet.