Premiers prepare for health fund showdown
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said on Thursday the government was prepared to take the $30 million the Greens and the Federal Government had committed in their recent agreement to provide support for families with more than one child.
The Greens had sought to use an agreement with the government to provide $8 million to cover a shortfall from the Medicare levy to families earning up to $90,000 a year.
Senator Zed Seselja on Tuesday told ABC he was shocked that some members of the party were planning to cut the health fund even more, especially because the government had made clear it intended to stick to its commitment.
“Why would anyone be prepared to cut this [health] support? What’s the rationale for doing that?” he asked.
Queensland’s Premier Campbell Newman was asked if there was a commitment to increase the fund as part of any deal.
“We’ll find out very soon if that is the case or not, but I’m sure there will be a deal of that nature which is that, once the budget is balanced, people are going to be able to move onto health and family funding,” Mr Newman said.
“I would expect that [the deal] will include an increase, although it’s not my intention to increase the health fund.”
Labor and the Greens have been at loggerheads over the $15-a-day family support measure, which requires low-income earners to pay more.
The former Coalition government had pledged in February to fund $11.5 billion of the $18.4 billion Medicare levy after all of its spending had been approved by the National Health Council.
But a number of Greens senators have told the ABC they think it’s important to bring some more money into the fund.
They are demanding the levy is indexed to inflation.
The Greens, who had been critical of the measure, are in opposition and are seeking a super-majority to end the debt, which currently sits at 30.9 per cent of gross domestic product.
Mr Newman said on Thursday it was about bringing in money to make up for the funding shortfall.
“We have a balance of power and I take that as my responsibility,” Mr Newman said.
“The way to balance that in the Senate was to come up with an adequate $8 million and we will do that.