Question: Federal Funding for Hospitals (19.02.2013)

Written on the 7 March 2013

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- My question is to the Minister for Health, David Davis. I ask: can the minister update the house on the Victorian government's understanding of the flawed basis on which the federal Treasurer cut funding to Victorian hospitals?


Hon. D. M. DAVIS (Minister for Health) -- I thank the member for her question. I can indicate to the chamber that the government is developing a greater understanding of the mechanisms by which the federal Treasurer made his now known to be flawed adjustment to federal funding going into the pools of state hospital funds. It is clear that what he has done is to -- --


Hon. M. P. Pakula -- Have other states cut like you have?


Hon. D. M. DAVIS -- No, we have not cut, Mr Pakula; it is the federal government that has cut, and other states have had money cut from their pool -- --


Hon. M. P. Pakula interjected.


Hon. D. M. DAVIS -- In Queensland, Mr Pakula, I can indicate that from this month the reductions in the pool will be directly reflected in funding to Queensland hospitals, and that applies in Victoria because Mr Pakula's mates cut funding to hospitals by $475 million.


Hon. M. P. Pakula interjected.


Hon. D. M. DAVIS -- Your mates cut it, and you're an apologist.


Honourable members interjecting.


Hon. D. M. DAVIS -- It is interesting to recall the comments of the now Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly when he was Parliamentary Secretary for Health and to go back to the period under the Howard government, and this is an important historical contrast. There was a claim by state governments at the time, largely Labor state governments, that a billion dollars had been taken out of the forward estimates and that Victoria's share of that reduction in forward funding was $375 million. Mr Andrews was critical of the then federal government. But now, when his mates in Canberra cut $475 million straight out of health funding, straight out of the pool, he is as quiet as a church mouse. Like the shameful people on the other side of the chamber who voted in favour of the commonwealth cuts to health care, I have to say the community will judge them very harshly.


The government has had KPMG undertake some analysis of the Treasurer's work. That indicates very clearly that the federal Treasurer, Mr Swan, used obsolete figures in the calculations on which he based the cuts to Victorian health care and the cuts to Australian health care. He used an obsolete time series to conclude that the population of Victoria had fallen by 11 000 and the Australian population had only grown by 0.03 per cent. In fact what we know is that Mr Swan was aware at the time -- --


An honourable member interjected.


Hon. D. M. DAVIS -- Let me be quite clear. When he signed the determination in October he was aware that he was using the wrong figures. He was aware, because in signing the local government agreement on 29 June he used the correct figures -- just shy of 1.4 per cent growth in Victoria.


The simple question to Mr Swan and the federal government is: did the Australian population grow by 1.4 per cent in that year or did it grow by 0.03 per cent? It cannot have grown by different figures in the same time period. But Mr Swan has used two separate figures, despite having a letter from the statistician telling him that he should use the figure just short of 1.4 per cent. Instead of that he used 0.03 per cent growth in population, and that cut comes to a massive amount across the country, a massive amount into the pools of every state. It is a $475 million cut to the Victorian pool, $107 million in this year, in this seven-month period. I have got to say the community would be -- --


The PRESIDENT -- Time!

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