I have added a blog post at the end of this email that I wrote in February of 2009 regarding Kevin Rudd (Australian PM) – and his support for a new world order.
John - April 20, 2010
APRIL 20, 2010, 7:45 A.M. ET
Australian States Agree to Health Plan
By GEOFFREY ROGOW
SYDNEY—Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and all but one of the country's states Tuesday agreed to an overhaul of the country's health care system, with primary responsibility for the nation's hospitals moving from the states to the federal government.
Ending two days of contentious negotiations in Canberra, Mr. Rudd unveiled the plan at a press conference Tuesday in a move he likely hopes will fuel his 2010 re-election campaign. It includes federal government commitments for extra services that will cost 5.4 billion Australian dollars (US$4.98 billion) over five years. At the same time, Canberra will hold back 30% of revenue from Australia's goods and services tax, which is expected to reap A$44.26 billion in the fiscal year ending June 30, to help fund hospitals.
Mr. Rudd must now win over Western Australia, the lone holdout, to implement the plan. Mr. Rudd promised to continue talks with Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett in the coming weeks, with both sides seemingly optimistic an agreement will be reached by July 1.
Seven Australian states and territories covering 90% of the population signed the health-care overhaul package.
"Here we have for the first time, the Australian government as the exclusive funder of the [health] care system, the exclusive funder of the primary health care system of Australia, and for the first time in our country's history, the dominant funder of the acute hospital system," Mr. Rudd said.
He said the government won't issue full details of the plan's cost until the annual budget is released on May 11.
Mr. Rudd's health-care plan, unveiled earlier this year, is designed to improve aging hospitals that have long wait lists and too few doctors by having the federal government take responsibility for funding the country's public hospitals. The move marks the biggest overhaul of the country's health system since the universal health program began in 1975.
Throughout the negotiations, Mr. Rudd said the plan would wipe out red tape and bureaucracy slowing down hospital care in the country. The government could also ensure more standardized health coverage across the country.
Approval of the plan comes at a crucial point for Mr. Rudd, who leads the ruling Australian labor party and is just months away from an election. The government has so far failed to put in place many of its planned big reforms that Labor promised in the 2007 election campaign, a fact that has been repeatedly touted by Liberal-National Coalition Leader Tony Abbott in recent debates.
Australia's two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, signed the health care plan on Tuesday only after Mr. Rudd agreed to give each state more money for extra health services, including more hospital beds and rehabilitation care.
New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally said the deal was worth A$6.6 billion over 10 years for her state, while Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said it was worth A$4 billion over 10 years. South Australia placed the total added health-care funding at A$1.35 billion from the federal government.
One of the key sticking points for state leaders was the prime minister's desire to have the federal government take 30% of the country's good and services tax revenue that normally goes to the states, with that tax revenue then used to provide the majority of funding for hospitals.
"We will not be signing the agreement as it stands," said Western Australia's Mr. Barnett, adding he doesn't want to lose control of goods and services tax revenue for fear that it would set a precedent for similar moves from the federal government in other areas.
—James Glynn in Sydney and Ray Brindal in Canberra contributed to this article
Link to previous blog post on Kevin Rudd: