The prime minister has downplayed calls from state prime ministers for a 50-50 split of hospital funding.
Ahead of Anthony Albanese’s first national cabinet meeting, state and territory leaders have again called on the Commonwealth to increase its share of funding.
The partnership started as 50-50 under Kevin Rudd before Tony Abbott reduced it to a 40 percent federal share.
Malcolm Turnbull brought it down to a 45 percent Commonwealth contribution, but state and area leaders say it should return to 50 percent.
Speaking to reporters in Canberra before the meeting, South Australian Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas said the 50-50 split was essential.
“We don’t think this is the time for the Commonwealth to cut back on their support in terms of hospital funding,” he said.
“The idea that at a time of a national… hospitalization crisis, now is not the time for the Commonwealth to withdraw that financial support.
“We have a problem with the delivery of health care, and it’s beyond the control of the states, so we have to work with the Commonwealth.”
SA Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas says a 50-50 split is essential to maintain care delivery. Photo: AAP
But Malinauskas said “throwing more money to health care” wouldn’t solve it, as it needed “serious reform.”
He said it is important that primary health care, the aged care system, and the NDIS work together with the hospital system.
Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said health care reform would be “from the start” for her and her colleagues.
Mr. Albanian said “nothing new” was in the prime minister’s appeal.
“And there is nothing new in my answer,” he said.
“I look forward to working constructively with the state prime and prime ministers.”
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said pressures on the health system must be addressed.
“I will not settle for the Commonwealth government continuing with Scott Morrison’s austerity measures,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
The most immediate issue for the leaders — likely to get federal government approval — is the extension of the COVID response partnership, which expires in September.
In the medium term, state and territory leaders want more support for elective surgery.
But better national collaboration between hospitals and health care is the long-term goal.
Mr. Albanese said the meeting would occur in the context of a $1 trillion debt owed by the Morrison government.
“We are not in a position to do everything we would like to do right away.”
However, the Prime Minister said Labor is committed to urgent care clinics and increased support for primary health care.
Mr. Albaniase said that one of his agenda items would be productivity reform.
WA Prime Minister Mark McGowan also wants to discuss the labor shortage but is pushing for a campaign for Australians on the east coast to move west where there are jobs, cheaper housing, and a lower cost of living.
The Prime Minister said he would also talk to Prime Ministers about involving local government, which had a seat at the table under the former Council of Australian Governments format.
Malinauskas said he was open-minded about the reform of the national cabinet.