21 February 2013. The Gillard Government has been forced into an extraordinary back-down on its retrospective hospital funding cuts in Victoria, but has completely ignored the situation in other states.
Shadow Health Minister, Peter Dutton, said that it is a dire policy bungle, even by this Labor Government’s standards, that continues to have serious consequences for hospitals and patients.
The Gillard Government announced $1.6 billion in funding cuts for public hospitals in MYEFO, including $403 million to be clawed-back this financial year for funding already spent.
The Government has only promised to reinstate the $107 million in retrospective cuts for Victoria.
“The Gillard Government agreed to hospital funding, then retrospectively cut funding, caused beds and operating theatres to close and now has belatedly reinstated the funding for only one State. It is Government incompetence at its worst,” Mr Dutton said.
“Victorian patients, their families and hospital staff have endured enormous stress and uncertainty because of Labor’s cuts. A lot of damage has already been done.
“But Labor now needs to explain why a retrospective cut to hospital funding is still acceptable in New South Wales, Queensland and elsewhere, after it has reversed its position for Victoria,” Mr Dutton said.
According to Treasury documents, New South Wales will still lose nearly $140 million, Queensland $103 million and South Australia over $30 million for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 financial years alone.
“The disastrous handling of this issue makes the Health Minister’s position untenable,” Mr Dutton said.
The public hospital funding cuts are in addition to nearly $4 billion that has been cut from private health insurance and $1 billion cut from dental health this year through Labor’s closure of the Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme.