11 June 2016

A Shorten Labor Government will reduce waiting times for elective surgery and emergency departments, invest in hospitals and protect Medicare so Australia has the strong health system we need for the future.

Labor will also ramp up investment in health care at the frontline – so fewer Australians end up in hospital in the first place.

All Australians deserve access to the best possible health care when they need it – determined by their Medicare card, not their credit card.

That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will restore the National Health Reform Agreement for four years, at the originally agreed funding formula of 50 per cent of growth in costs based on the National Efficient Price, and provide additional support to the States and Territories to reduce waiting times for elective surgery and in public hospital emergency departments.

This will boost hospital funding by $2 billion more than the Liberals over the next four years, and drive efficiency by funding the States and Territories on the basis of the actual services performed.

This will mean reduced hospital waiting times, more beds, more doctors and nurses.

Hospitals that perform services more efficiently are able to use additional funding to invest in service improvement.

The Liberals went to the election promising no cuts to health – and then they inflicted savage cuts to our hospitals.

The Liberals scrapped Labor’s National Health Reform Agreement and returned to an outdated model of indexation, which saw cuts to hospitals across the country. They have recently been forced to admit that Labor’s reforms were right all along – but failed to match Labor’s investment, committing just 45 per cent of growth in efficient costs.

While Labor’s new commitment does not restore all of the funding ripped out by the Liberals, it restores Labor’s agreement for the next four years and provides certainty for a new agreement to be negotiated under a Labor Government.

Labor will also provide an additional $100 million over two years to strengthen the frontline of Australia’s health care system – primary care.

Building a stronger primary care system will provide greater day to day health care for tens of thousands of Australians, meaning fewer people end up in hospital.

Labor’s investment will help develop new models of integrated primary care including the development of a unique Australian model of patient-centred medical homes – Your Family Doctor. Labor will ensure an appropriate mix of launch sites in metropolitan, regional and rural areas, so that the models developed meet the needs of all Australians.

Labor will task the new Centre for Medicare and Healthcare System Innovation, within the permanent Australian Healthcare Reform Commission, with developing specific models of innovative primary care. It will do so in partnership with general practitioners, nurses, Primary Health Networks, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, other primary care and allied health providers, consumers and other stakeholders.   

This builds on our commitment to reverse Malcolm Turnbull’s GP Tax by stealth – his Medicare freeze - from 1 January 2017.

Labor has made difficult decisions and outlined responsible, long-term budget repair so we can fund our positive policies.

The additional investment announced today will protect Australia’s heath care system now, and build the health care system we need for the future.

Labor’s commitment is in stark contrast to the Liberals’ attack on Medicare and our health care system.

Mr Turnbull’s GP tax by stealth will reduce bulk billing, and drive even more patients into already overcrowded emergency departments.

Mr Turnbull’s plan to privatise Medicare will be the end of Medicare as we know it. Labor will fight these plans tooth and nail.

Only a Shorten Labor Government will protect Medicare and properly invest in our public hospitals.

For more information on Labor’s plan for hospitals, visit: 

For more information on Labor’s plan for new models of primary care, visit:

SUNDAY, 12 JUNE 2016