TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE
5 AUGUST 2010
E & O E – PROOF ONLY
Subjects: Tony Abbott’s health promises
ROXON: Thanks very much for coming today. I want to make some comments in response to Mr Abbott’s launch today of what he is calling a health policy.
Of course what it means is the community now, at last, has a clear choice between a Gillard Labor Government that is delivering more doctors, more nurses and more health and hospital services across the country and Mr Abbott, who if he is elected as Prime Minister, will cut all of those services.
We know that the Labor Government has spent a lot of this term in Government devising the most comprehensive reform plan for our health and hospital system for many many decades.
It’s a $7.4 billion additional investment in health and hospital services and it’s going to provide more beds, more doctors and more nurses.
We’ve of course boosted hospital funding by 50 per cent since coming to office, got 1,300 more doctors starting work within the next three years, 27,000 nurses that will be trained in the next three years and delivered thousands more elective surgeries and opened new operating theatres and new equipment for elective surgery each and every week in the last number of months.
Under a Labor Government a parent of a sick child will be able to pick up the phone and speak to a GP at any time of day or night, weekday or weekend no matter where they live and at no cost.
All of these things will be cut by Mr Abbott if he is elected as Prime Minister.
I am surprised that Mr Abbott, as a former Health Minister, has been so gutless in his announcements today that he is going to cut vital health services in order to promise beds that he will never deliver.
Mr Abbott of course cut $1 billion to the hospital system when he was Health Minister and now he wants to cut more.
Now let me be absolutely clear about this. Mr Abbott is promising to cut GP services, after hours services, cuts to elective surgery, cuts to emergency departments, cutting local control of hospitals and cutting national funding. Not to mention cutting sub-acute care, refusing to guarantee elective surgery treatments, failing to introduce a four hour rule for emergency departments. All of these things will be gone if Mr Abbott is elected as Prime Minister.
Now communities, with hospitals across the country, are on Mr Abbott’s hit list and I’d like to release today the list of hospitals that will have their services cut if Mr Abbott is elected to Government.
We know there are many, many hospitals, particularly in our outer urban areas in rural and regional Australia where our investments in elective surgery and emergency departments is fundamentally improving the way services are delivered and this list identifies for you each and every one of those hospitals. It is a list as it stands today because there are more announcements which will continue to be made as a result of the agreements reached between our Government and the States and Territories, with the exception of Western Australia.
You simply cannot trust Mr Abbott when it comes to health services.
He has a legacy of cutting funding and is going to do it again.
And Mr Abbott today in his interviews before his press conference has already conceded that these beds will not be delivered.
He will not provide funding until States already set up these beds.
He expects the NSW Government or Queensland Government, every other government across the country to find extra money with no help from the Commonwealth to fund extra beds, and then he might tip in part of the contribution.
He clearly is going to simply blame the states again when it comes to health and hospital services. I think it is very clear that Phoney Tony does not intend to deliver these beds and certainly intends to cut services.
Over to you.
JOURNALIST: If he is making cuts to other services (inaudible) finance the new beds?
ROXON: Well he’s made absolutely clear that his investment is around $3 billion. That’s half of our investments in health and hospital services, our new investments on top of our 50 per cent increase in funding to hospitals. So Mr Abbott is doing something that is pretty tricky here and people are used to this with Mr Abbott. When he was the Health Minister he cut funding for hospitals. Now he’s going to cut funding for services and promise beds in hospitals that he will never deliver.
JOURNALIST: Mr Abbott’s flagged the Commonwealth possibly funding the 100% of the efficient price of hospital services (inaudible) agreement after 2013/14. What’s your reaction to that?
ROXON: Well Mr Abbott was the Health Minister for four years. He was part of the Government in power for 12 years. They never took this action, and now days before the election, he’s promising something that he was too frightened as Health Minister to pursue but he’s promising for it for the election after next. This is a promise from Mr Abbott on the never never. He’s cutting health services and he’s promising beds that he will not deliver.
JOURNALIST: Don’t you think it’s responsible though that he has said that hospitals should supply the beds before the funding flows? Don’t you think that’s a responsible position to take?
ROXON: What I think is responsible is to work up a careful detailed plan for investments in our health and hospital services. We are requiring, as part of our agreement with the States and Territories, stricter reporting, stricter performance measures, public reporting of hospital data. All of that goes under Mr Abbott when he stands up and tears up the COAG agreement that was reached. He is offering some money that he knows he will not deliver and he has torn up an agreement which is introducing historic strict performance measures and quality measures, and he’s walked away from all of that.
JOURNALIST: Mr Abbott said also too that your policy’s about bureaucrats. This is about beds.
ROXON: Well I reject that, but Mr Abbott has always said that and never worried about it having any bearing on the truth. Our plan is absolutely determined to deliver more nurses, more doctors, more hospital beds and important reforms about the way we pay for services, the way the Commonwealth steps up to more of the responsibility for health services, and to actually change some things for the future, to give better services to families across the country who rely on our hospitals, who rely on GPs, (inaudible) services after hours and Mr Abbott’s going to cut all of those.
Let me give you a very clear example. I was on the Central Coast of NSW today I made three announcements. All of those announcements would be at risk under Mr Abbott. I announced 16 additional acute beds at Gosford Hospital, funded because of our COAG agreement with the States, and operational already as of today. Ten more hospital beds at Wyong Hospital already operational as of today and $7 million for investment in a GP Superclinic in the Gosford region with a fast growing population where we don’t have many after hours services being provided. All of those services to the Central Coast will be cut with Mr Abbott’s funding commitments and his announcement today and that is replicated across the country as you will see in our large document which is being distributed today.
Thanks very much guys.
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