National cabinet: Premiers gang up on Anthony Albanese as they seek 50-50 health deal

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has agreed to a huge request from several states, but he’s revealed there is one big catch.

Anthony Albanese has agreed to extend a major health deal after state and territory leaders ganged up to demand a greater share of funding.

But the Prime Minister stopped short of signing off on a permanent extension, only throwing the 50-50 public hospital funding agreement another three-month lifeline.

It is set to cost the federal government about $760m.

Premiers and chief ministers had called for the deal to be locked in ahead of the national cabinet meeting on Friday.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Albanese said he had ordered a review of health funding to be led by his own department.

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

“What that is about isn’t necessarily additional dollars,” Mr Albanese said.

“What it’s about is a recognition that our hospital system at the moment has people who should be being looked after by their local GP but GPs are just unavailable.”

Earlier, Mr Albanese attempted to hose down expectations he would be able to extend the deal beyond September, citing budget constraints.

“We‘re inheriting a trillion dollars of debt, what I will do is have constructive discussions with the premiers and chief ministers,” the Prime Minister told Nine.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet welcomed the additional funding, suggesting the former government had put the issue in the “too hard basket”.

“I think there is great opportunity for substantive reform in that space because the prime minister has said this is not about money, it’s about working together on substantial reform and I thought today’s national cabinet was refreshingly collaborative,” he told reporters.

Victorian leader Daniel Andrews said he was happy to see politics be put to aside as they hashed out the agreement but said the most important test was still to come.

“We have put patients first and that is the most important thing,” he said.

Health funding has historically been evenly split between the states and the commonwealth until Tony Abbott slashed the federal share to 40 per cent.

It was later increased to 45 per cent by Malcolm Turnbull and ultimately beefed up to its current 50-50 share during the pandemic. That deal was set to expire in September.

Skills shortages, the energy crisis and the constitutional recognition of First Nations people were also canvassed by leaders during Friday’s meeting.

The group has agreed to meet at least four times a year – including just prior to Labor’s first budget in October.

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

Originally published as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese agrees to extend huge health deal

Read related topics:Anthony Albanese

You may also like...