Prime Minister Anthony Albanian agrees to extend huge health deal

Anthony Albanese has agreed to extend a major health deal after state and area leaders came together to demand a larger share of funding.

But the prime minister stopped signing a permanent extension, giving the 50-50 public hospital financing deal another three-month lifeline.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanian agrees to extend huge health deal

It will cost the federal government about $760 million.

Prime Ministers and Prime Ministers had called for the deal to be finalized ahead of Friday’s national cabinet meeting.

Camera icon Anthony Albanese will chair his national cabinet meeting on Friday. NCA NewsWire/Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

After the meeting, Mr. Albanese said he had ordered a review of health funding from his department.

But he stressed that the health problem could not be solved by simply throwing money at it.

“What that’s about is not necessarily extra dollars,” said Mr. Albanese.

“What matters is an acknowledgment that our hospital system currently has people who should be looked after by their local GP, but GPs are simply unavailable.”

Earlier, Mr. Albanian tried to allay expectations that he could extend the deal beyond September, citing budgetary constraints.

Camera Icon Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was ‘wonderful’ that leaders were allowed to discuss health again. NCA NewsWire/Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“We inherit a trillion dollars in debt; I will have constructive discussions with the prime ministers and prime ministers,” the prime minister told Nine.

NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet welcomed the additional funding and suggested the former government had put the issue in the “too hard basket”.

“I think in that space there is a great opportunity for substantial reforms because the prime minister has said that this is not about money, but working together on substantial reforms, and I found the current national cabinet refreshingly collaborative,” he told reporters.

Victorian leader Daniel Andrews said he was pleased to see politics set aside as they pulled the deal apart but said the most important test was yet to come.

Camera icons leadeicony they are united in their pursuit. NCA NewsWire/Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

“We’ve put patients first, and that’s the most important thing,” he said.

Healthcare funding has historically been evenly split between the states and the Commonwealth until Tony Abbott cut the federal share to 40 percent.

It was later raised to 45 percent by Malcolm Turnbull and eventually increased to its current 50-50 share during the pandemic. That deal was due to expire in September.

At Friday’s meeting, leaders addressed skills shortages, the energy crisis, and constitutional recognition of First Nations people.

The group has agreed to meet at least four times yearly, including just before Labor’s first budget in October.

“Everyone came to this meeting with a great spirit of cooperation, with a determination to put their national interests first while appropriately representing their state and territory interests,” said Mr. Albanese.

Lori J. Kile
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