Private Health Insurance

About this Item
SpeakersRefshauge Dr Andrew; Skinner Mrs Jillian; Hall Ms Jill; Ficarra Ms Marie; Mills Mr John

Urgent Motion

Dr REFSHAUGE (Marrickville - Deputy Premier, Minister for Health, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) [4.10 p.m.]: I move:
      That this House condemn the Federal Government for its proposed changes to private health insurance which will dramatically shift costs on to the public health system.

The Commonwealth Government has supported recommendations of the Productivity Commission which will shift costs from the private health system to public hospitals to increase the profitability of private health insurance funds. It is imperative that this House condemn those changes. On Monday, under the weight of condemnation from health representative groups, the Federal health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, was forced to back down on his iniquitous plan to remove palliative care and rehabilitation from the general private insurance package. Despite a clear message from the Prime Minister, John Howard, that euthanasia was not the way to go and that palliative care was more important, the Federal Government has cut funding for palliative care. Michael Wooldridge initially supported the removal of palliative care from the general private insurance package, and this Government certainly welcomes the fact that he has backed down on that plan.

The proposed changes would have shifted an extra $60 million onto the New South Wales public health system and $180 million to $200 million onto public hospitals throughout the nation. The New South Wales Opposition should act responsibly and help to ensure that other attacks on the public health system are stopped. The Federal Government has accepted recommendations to stop what the commission calls hit-and-run membership of private health insurance funds. The commission estimates that such cases have a net cost to health funds of between 1 per cent and 2 per cent of benefits, and recommends that this cost be transferred to public hospitals. A 2 per cent shift of those benefits would cost New South Wales public hospitals $27 million. The Federal Government will not provide the State with extra funding to compensate for that. That will be the cost to the New South Wales public health system, for which there will be no compensation. Only those health funds that provide for hit-and-run members will benefit. Liberal and National members in the House do not even have the shame to deny that that is what will happen, nor do their Federal colleagues. The Productivity Commission report, which was clear on this issue, stated:
      In encouraging early entry and penalising those who only choose to buy private insurance when they anticipate high claims, some people will inevitably make greater use of Medicare.

The Productivity Commission stated that that greater use of Medicare will cost the States more. The Federal Government is knowingly shifting the burden of the sick onto our public hospitals. Among the procedures affected are obstetrics, cataract surgery, and hip and knee replacements. It will not surprise me if the Liberal members opposite support this attack on young families, the sick and the
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elderly. The Liberal Party's health policy has always been captive to the wealthy profiteers. However, that is not the case with the National Party. National Party members will be aware that the proposed changes target rural and regional electorates and will hurt their constituents. It is important to understand some of the other changes and how they will result in extra costs being put onto New South Wales and, indeed, every other State.

The removal of the requirement for health funds to pay benefits for nursing home type patients for the first 35 days will cost New South Wales at least $1.3 million next year. Much of that burden will fall on small hospitals, country hospitals and multipurpose services, which are almost exclusively in country regions, because they are much more likely to have nursing home type patients in acute beds. Allowing private health insurers to increase premiums for people who wait until they are over 30 to join health funds is a massive subsidisation of Liberal voting electorates at the expense of Labor and National voting electorates. I have seen the figures. The geographical spread of private health insurance is concentrated on the north shore of Sydney. Blue ribbon Liberal electorates such as Ku-ring-gai have 50 per cent more privately insured families than the State average.

Electorates represented by National Party members, such as those in the Richmond, Tweed and the mid north coast areas, and those represented by Labor, such as Clarence and Broken Hill, have 33 per cent fewer privately insured families than the State average. Every area of New South Wales represented by a member of the National Party is below the State average for privately insured families - most are significantly below that average. Liberal voting electorates, especially those on Sydney's north shore, have dramatically higher rates of private health insurance than the New South Wales average. The proposition is simple: the Federal Government's proposal will reward those who are born rich and punish those who cannot afford private insurance until they are over 30 by forcing them to spend the rest of their life paying higher premiums to subsidise the rich - and they get slugged with an extra bill if they do not! Meanwhile the tax concession goes to those Liberal voting city dwellers who currently have private health insurance.

The Liberal Party is overlooking the fact that, for most Australian families, private health insurance is not an ideological statement in favour of the capitalist way. Most Australian families must make a tough decision about whether the family budget will stretch to covering private health insurance premiums. Young families starting out with a mortgage, possibly a higher education contribution scheme bill and an extended waiting period for obstetric care may well feel that they are being blackmailed into private health insurance by a fear of spending the rest of their lives paying higher premiums. Older Australians forced to wait extended periods for elective surgery such as cataract removal, hip replacements and knee replacements may simply be unable to afford the financial burden and choose to return to the public system, because in fact they have no choice. While that burden on the public system is increasing, the Howard Government continues to cut funding for public hospitals. Through tax concessions and these proposed changes, John Howard is making a huge contribution to the profits of private health insurance funds and the households of the young, the healthy and the wealthy. In relation to the the billions of dollars of tax concessions, taxpayers' money, being offered for private health insurance, the Productivity Commission report stated:
      They are likely to have a moderate, but predominantly short term impact on membership levels (unless the subsidies were to increase in line with premiums).

The report went on to say:
      The fact that the vast bulk of the rebates will go to existing fund members . . . means that the net budgetary effects will be negative.

In other words, the money will be wasted; that money will be taken out of the health system. Even if the scheme were to meet its aims and encourage the young and the healthy back into private health insurance, it would not do an enormous amount for public hospitals because the young and the healthy are not those who are mainly using public hospital resources at present. By far the greatest users of our public hospitals are the elderly and the chronically ill. They are the people who cannot afford the premium increases. They are the people who gain very little benefit from tax breaks and are not going to be affected by the Medicare levy increase because they do not earn over $100,000 a year. Private health insurance changes would benefit the public hospital system only if they helped the poor, the sick and the aged into private health insurance, and these changes do exactly the opposite.

The Liberal Party at the Federal level is not even trying to hide it, although its colleagues here in New South Wales do not understand the issue. The Liberal Party supports recommendations which it baldly states will increase health insurance company profits, reward the healthy and wealthy, and stop the sick and elderly from using private health insurance. This morning on 2BL Dr Michael Wooldridge was quoted as saying that the Australian public hospital system will be in crisis within 15 years. Despite
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being aware of this risk, he has rejected the recommendation from the Carr Government, the Australian Medical Association and now the Productivity Commission to establish a broad inquiry into the Australian health care system. While the Federal Liberal Government has accepted the nasty recommendations from the Productivity Commission, the final recommendation - the key recommendation - for a broad public inquiry into Australia's health system has been ignored. The commission recommended that even if a broad strategic inquiry were unmanageable, a number of specific issues should be undertaken, including financing issues. [Time expired.]

Mrs SKINNER (North Shore) [4.20 p.m.]: What hypocrisy the House has just heard. What double standards! The Minister for Health, the Government and the Premier want to have a bob each way.

Mr Jeffery: They want two bob each way.

Mrs SKINNER: Yes, perhaps even 10 bob each way. On the one hand the Carr Government says that the number of people dropping out of private health insurance funds will have a detrimental effect on public hospitals. Yet on the other it says that measures should be put in place to encourage people not only to stop dropping out of private health insurance schemes but also to take up new health insurance. Far from being restricted to the rich, the elite and all of the other socialist-type, negative classifications that the Minister spouted forth, private health insurance is taken out by many battlers who struggle to take it out because they know that they cannot get the necessary services in the public hospitals administered by the Minister for Health.

I refer the Minister to Charlie Campbell, whose wife Colleen died because she could not get the intensive care bed that her surgeons so desperately sought for her. Charlie Campbell sat in the gallery here during a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Health. He is a former Labor Party voter, someone who wanted to do everything possible to assist his wife, someone who felt obliged to take out private health insurance because the Minister failed to fund public hospitals to a level sufficient to enable his wife to get the treatment she required. The Minister's words are hypocritical in the extreme. All that the Minister is trying to do is shift blame, and that has been very evident to anyone who has listened to what he has mouthed over the past few months. It is interesting to note that the sudden decision to shift the blame on to the Commonwealth came after a meeting between the Minister and the Premier to develop a media strategy to try to divert attention away from the terrible flak the Minister is receiving from the public about the way in which he administers the health system.

Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! The member needs no assistance from the honourable member for Georges River or from the honourable member for Fairfield.

Mrs SKINNER: It came as no surprise to any honourable member on this side of the House, nor I suspect to any honourable member on the other side of the House, to learn that the Minister for Health has the lowest popularity rating of any Minister in the Government and that health is the issue that is hurting the Government the most. The tactic adopted by the Government is designed to do nothing but divert attention away from the failings of the Carr Government and the Minister for Health. The cuts to the health budget made by the Carr Government in the State budget of May 1996 are responsible for the disastrous situation in the public hospitals. I have been very careful to go through a number of Government documents to try to determine exactly how much money the Government will need to boost the recurrent health budget in the next financial year merely to catch up on the cuts it has imposed on hospitals to deal with the shortfall of funding.

Dr Refshauge: On a point of order. I am reluctant to interrupt the shadow minister for health displaying her ignorance, but the motion before the House is about the Federal Government changes to private health insurance. I ask you to bring the honourable member for North Shore back to the leave of the motion. That may in fact shorten the debate, as she does not appear to have anything to say.

Mrs SKINNER: On the point of order. I shall not comment on the hypocritical, cynical and sarcastic comments made by the Minister. I point out that I am talking to that part of the motion relating to the shifting of costs on to the public health system. One of the reasons costs have shifted on to the public health system is the cuts made by the Carr Government, and therefore my comments are completely in order.

Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I am sure that the member will return to the essence of the motion in due course.

Mrs SKINNER: It is interesting that no less a person than Graham Richardson, a former Federal Minister for Health, was one who in the first instance identified the need to bring on board measures to prevent the drift away from private
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health insurance and that some of the measures that have been considered and proposed by the current Federal Government are very much in line with those proposed by Graham Richardson. I realise, of course, that Graham Richardson and the Minister belong to different Labor Party factions, which probably indicates that they are not always in agreement.

I have read the report of the Industry Commission from cover to cover. There is no doubt that the Industry Commission and many others have argued for many years - as in fact the Minister argued in a newspaper article some years ago before he was elected to office - that the decrease in the number of people in private health insurance schemes, which has reduced from about 70 per cent to about 40 per cent in the past 10 years, has a very detrimental effect on the capacity of public hospitals to meet demand. The claim made by the Premier that negotiations for the new Medicare agreement should involve an increase to the State of more than $240 million is simply ridiculous. It is nothing more than an ambit claim, particularly given the statistics to which the Minister has just referred. The Premier was right in saying that something needs to be done to encourage people not only to remain in private health insurance but to take it out.

I plead with everybody to remember that if they want access to hospital treatment without the disastrous delays that are being caused by the activities of the Carr Government, they need to consider private health insurance. I believe that the recommendations made by the Industry Commission, particularly those proposed to be adopted by the Commonwealth Government, are designed to assist people come to the conclusion that private health insurance is for them. The Industry Commission report contained some 22 recommendations. The Commonwealth Government is not adopting all of the recommendations, although it is adopting many of them. It is clearly spelt out in the Commonwealth parliamentary debates that the intention of the Federal Government is that people should continue to take out private health insurance.

It is recognised by many people that our health system is based upon a partnership between a number of players, including Medicare, the public hospital system, the private health system, and private health insurance. Without that balance, Medicare is in danger of not meeting demand. I am sure that the Minister will acknowledge that. These recommendations, which have resulted from extensive deliberations by the Industry Commission, are designed to encourage people to either stay in private health insurance schemes or get back into them. Surely without private health insurance hospital waiting lists will increase. I point out that the waiting lists level is higher now than it has ever been. In the past 12 months the number of people added to the hospital waiting lists is almost 26,000. The length of time people should expect to wait for an operation has also increased.

It should be remembered that when the Minister for Health took office New South Wales led Australia in terms of hospital waiting times. Under the coalition Government this State had the shortest waiting times for operations. A policy and a program had been put in place from which this Government benefited for its first 12 months in office. Since December last year the figures and the waiting times have increased. Between December and January the expected length of time people had to wait for operations doubled. The initiatives that hospitals have had to adopt to ensure that budget overruns were clawed back as much as possible have caused waiting lists to further increase. These initiatives included strategies such as cancelling operations, closing entire operating theatres in some hospitals, closing beds and freezing staff appointments.

More than anything else, extended closures of elective surgery over Christmas and the Easter holiday school break caused waiting lists to blow out. It is no surprise that between December last year and January this year waiting list numbers jumped by 6,000. Almost throughout the summer the Government's policies and lack of hospital funding left hospitals with no alternative other than to restrict surgery as a budgetary measure. The Minister for Health has the nerve to talk about any initiatives that are designed to encourage people - [Time expired.]

Ms HALL (Swansea) [4.30 p.m.]: I support the motion. The comments of the honourable member for North Shore about the impact of Federal Government funding cuts on New South Wales hospital waiting lists were most interesting. Those cuts are absolutely disgusting, and I sincerely hope she takes that message to her friends in Canberra. This State is hurting from those Howard Government cuts. New South Wales people are not stupid. They know that these cuts are from the Federal Government; they know where to attribute the blame. The honourable member for North Shore claimed that people must realise that private health insurance is for them. That is all very well if they live on the north shore and have plenty of money to spend. It is not the same for the elderly people in the Swansea electorate, for those on fixed incomes, for the chronically ill, for those who are not healthy or for the young.

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Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! Opposition members will cease interjecting. The honourable member for Swansea has the call.

Ms HALL: If the Howard Government continues to support the recommendations of the Industry Commission to shift costs from the private health system to the public health system, New South Wales patients will suffer. Once again the families, the elderly and the people of the Hunter will suffer - not those on the north shore, not the people with plenty of money. It is imperative that this House condemns these changes. I am sure many Opposition members are keen to support this urgency motion because they realise where the problems are: they are in Canberra. The Opposition should act responsibly by ensuring that these attacks on the public health system are stopped. The Howard Government accepted recommendations to stop what it calls hit-and-run membership of private health insurance funds. The Howard Government is looking after its mates - the wealthy and the healthy - while members of this side of the House are left to look after the people of New South Wales.

The Industry Commission estimates that hit-and-run cases have a net cost to health funds of between 1 per cent and 2 per cent of benefits. The report recommends that this cost be transferred to the public health system. I know that members on the other side of the House are outraged by that thought. They do not want a cost increase in the public health system in this State or, for that matter, the other States of Australia. That cost to New South Wales will be $13.5 million at 1 per cent and $27 million at 2 per cent. New South Wales cannot afford that impost. I have not heard the Federal Government offer to reimburse New South Wales, but I am sure those on the other side of the House will take that message to their friends in Canberra.

That proposal is nothing more than a cost shifting exercise and will devastate the people of New South Wales. If the Opposition cares about the health of the New South Wales community, it will join the Government in condemning these Federal Government cuts. Some members on the other side of the House are nodding in support. By allowing private health insurance funds to increase premiums for those who wait until they are over 30 years of age to join is a massive subsidisation of Liberal electorates like the North Shore at the expense of National Party and Labor Party voters. The people of the electorates of Swansea, Marrickville, Wallsend and Fairfield know why this has happened and they condemn the Howard Government for these cuts. [Time expired.]

Ms FICARRA (Georges River) [4.35 p.m.]: What a bunch of hypocrites! Government members condemn the Federal Government after the lousy performance of State Government Ministers in every portfolio, particularly the health portfolio. Any community poll will show that no-one has confidence in the Government. There are 26,000 people on hospital waiting lists, a fact that was recently acknowledged by the Minister for Health. An article in the St George Leader on 12 March stated:
      Commenting on elective surgery, Dr Refshauge acknowledged waiting lists were continuing to blow out.
      . . . the number of people dropping out of private medical insurance . . . had led to enormous pressures on hospital systems.
      "The evidence of a national health crisis is mounting, be it in the emergency department, the operating theatre, the out-patients' clinic or the community health centre," he said.
      "Waiting lists and times for surgery will continue to blow out across Australia unless something is done."

What happened? The Federal Government wants to do something. Is there bipartisan support? No. There must, of course, be bipartisan support for the mental health legislation but there cannot be bipartisan support for something as important as providing general health services to New South Wales and the other States of Australia. Every decent health Minister and every decent Opposition health spokesperson acknowledges that the system must be reviewed. The system stinks and needs to be overhauled. That is what the Productivity Commission was considering. Everyone - Labor, Liberal, Independents - acknowledges the importance of private health insurance. Too many people have dropped out of private health insurance and that is imposing a heavy cost on State and Federal health systems. Instead of political point scoring, all health Ministers, whether they have Labor or Liberal backgrounds, should ask, "What the hell can we do to deliver more services to the elderly and the chronically ill?" The honourable member for Swansea might be interested to learn that my electorate has a high percentage of elderly people, probably more than in her electorate. They vote Liberal and the Opposition will look after them better than Labor. Look at what is happening in the Hunter, the Illawarra and in western Sydney!

Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Swansea has had a chance to contribute to the debate.

Ms FICARRA: The waiting lists in those areas are escalating and the people in those electorates are unhappy. Why? Because New South Wales has an $80 million shortfall in this year's budget. What will happen in the next budget?
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Approximately $423 million is needed to stop the haemorrhage from the system. What will the Minister deliver in the next budget? The waiting list at St George Hospital increased by 286 during January: there has been a 20 per cent increase over the past two years. The figures are now far higher than when the Carr Government came to power.

On 12 March the Sydney Morning Herald published a report showing that 75 per cent of 50 hospitals listed have higher waiting lists now than when the Government came to office. Waiting times are starting to blow out, so the former Government's great record is slowly and surely being ruined by the Government's mismanagement. What a joke to condemn the Federal Government after all the fiascos that the Government is experiencing in all its portfolios, not only health. Look at the Olympics, which has been politicised; look at roads and the M5. Look at the controversy over the Eastern Distributor. Look at education, corrective services and transport - they are all in a mess. Yet the Government has the hide to condemn the Federal Government. Is that because the Government is blame shifting, not only cost shifting?

Dr Refshauge: On a point of order. I know the honourable member for Georges River knows nothing about the health care system, but this debate is not about the Olympics or any other portfolio. I ask that she be directed to speak to the motion.

Mr DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I uphold the point of order. The member for Georges River will return to the motion.

Ms FICARRA: I have been working in the health system for many years. The recommendations in the report of the Productivity Commission will have far-reaching implications and will be properly considered by the coalition Government in Canberra, which currently has a high popularity rating and great credibility amongst electors, by comparison with the Carr Government. The most intractable underlying problems forcing up health costs and health insurance premiums are waste in the public health hospital system and overservicing in private hospitals and service laboratories. Private health insurance is an important part of the overall health service picture. It is important that all parties work together to arrest the decline in private insurance take up. I turn now to palliative care. [Time expired.]

Mr MILLS (Wallsend) [4.40 p.m.]: I am pleased to support the motion moved by the Deputy Premier that this House condemn the Federal Government for its proposed changes to private health insurance, which will dramatically shift costs on to the public hospital system. It is important that I read that motion onto the record because the two Opposition members who contributed to the debate spent more time discussing State issues than the impact of the Federal changes on New South Wales.

Mr MacCarthy: State issues are more relevant.

Mr MILLS: The honourable member for Strathfield interjects. He has been in the Chamber for only a short time and really ought to do more homework to find out the close inter-relationship between State and Federal jurisdictions when it comes to health. If he would like to consult any of his State colleagues, or the people on the front bench, he would find out the deep impact that any minor Federal Government decisions can have on State health finances. He really is talking off the top of his head without thinking about what he is saying. I ask whether the New South Wales Liberals, who I think are opposing this motion -

Mrs Skinner: That is the first time you have been right.

Mr MILLS: It is on the record at last: the Opposition opposes this motion. I ask whether the New South Wales Liberals believe that the changes that the Productivity Commission and Dr Wooldridge were talking about last week will truly encourage more people back into private health insurance. Do the Liberals believe that? Each State Liberal Party and health Minister does not agree; they are opposed to the Productivity Commission recommendation. I am disappointed that the State Liberals do not understand this adverse impact on the health system and finances. The members of the Opposition front bench, and some other frontbenchers who are not in the Chamber at the moment, should ask themselves whether they really want to be in government in 1999? If they do, they should be thinking strategically and should support this motion for two reasons. What is being done by John Howard and Michael Wooldridge through these changes to private health insurance will mean that the health cupboard will be bare.

Ms Ficarra: They haven't even done anything.

Mr MILLS: The cupboards will be bare after the 1999 election, whoever is in government. The cupboards are not bare now because the Government put in $632 million during the past two years. Every conservative State Liberal Government is opposed to these health insurance changes. It is about time the New South Wales Liberals woke up to that change. A front-page article by Jodie Brough and Marion Downey in the Sydney Morning Herald last Friday is particularly instructive. It stated:

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      Older people will be penalised for not taking out private health insurance and younger people will get cheaper premiums for life under the Federal Government's scheme for arresting the decline in private cover.
      The changes, outlined in a Productivity Commission report . . . will also clamp down on "hit-and-run" members who take out insurance . . .

However, for important contrast the article stated:
      Under the present "community rating" system, everybody pays the same for their health insurance regardless of their age or health risks.

The Government believes that the proposed changes, apart from being contrary to the principles of social justice, will definitely not encourage people to take out private health insurance. In particular, the changes will hurt the elderly, a matter about which the Minister said during debate last week:
      The total health expenditure in Australia is approximately $25 billion. Two-thirds of that expenditure is spent on patients over 60 years of age.

All the States acknowledge that the Wooldridge-Howard decisions will mean that fewer elderly people will take out private health insurance, which will be a massive cost shifting onto the States' finances at a time when the Federal Government is cutting grants to the States. This shifting of responsibility for budget problems from the Commonwealth will affect vulnerable members of the community, particularly the elderly. [Time expired.]

Dr REFSHAUGE (Marrickville - Deputy Premier, Minister for Health, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) [4.45 p.m.], in reply: I thank all honourable members who contributed to this debate, particularly the honourable member for Wallsend and the honourable member for Swansea. I will comment on a number of the important views put forward by the honourable member for North Shore, who quite clearly stated that people would take up private insurance because of difficulties experienced under my administration. I inform her that there has been a fall in private health insurance rates. Obviously her statement was a ringing endorsement of my policy. I thank her for informing honourable members that on her measure the people of New South Wales are delighted about what the Government is doing.

I also thank the honourable member for Georges River for contributing so significantly to this debate by suggesting that the health care system stinks and that there needs to be a total overhaul. She obviously supports my earlier contention that the Productivity Commission's recommendations that we conduct a full and far-reaching inquiry should go ahead. Dr Michael Wooldridge and John Howard do not support that proposal, but no doubt the New South Wales Opposition does. It is important to recognise that there is an absolute and fundamental belief by the Liberals opposite - and I make it clear that no National Party members spoke in this debate, because they understand what will happen in the bush. The members from the north shore and Liberal electorates clearly put their reputation on the record when they stated that the changes will increase private health insurance rates.

They also said the changes will not disadvantage the elderly. When the next analyses of the private health insurance rates carried out by electorate and age are published we will see - by their marker, their decision and their recommendation - their ability to understand the health care system. I would hope that the changes to be brought in would have the desired effect; that is, those who want to take up private health insurance would be happy to continue to do so and more people would be encouraged to do so, if that is their choice. I have no problem with that. Over the years the Federal Government has put $1.5 billion into private health insurance and the Productivity Commission suggests that the Federal Government will reap about $300 million value out of it. That is $1.2 billion of taxpayers' money going out of health, out of our hospitals. Another interesting point in the valuable contribution by the honourable member for Georges River was that the Federal Government is cutting our State budgets.

Ms Ficarra: I did not say that.

Dr REFSHAUGE: She said that and it is really important that she has put that on the record.

Ms Ficarra: I said you are cutting.

Dr REFSHAUGE: No, the honourable member for Georges River clearly said, "The Federal Government has been cutting our budgets." It is also interesting to see how out of step the Liberals in New South Wales are with their counterparts in other States. There is no doubt that Howard and Costello are putting the screws on Wooldridge although he does not believe any of this. Howard and Costello, and I suppose Wooldridge, are being supported by the Liberals in this State, but by no other State.

The Liberals spent New South Wales taxpayers' money to go down to see Jeff Kennett to hear what he had to say. What did Jeff, with his bouffant hairdo, say? He said, "John Howard and Peter Costello are cutting our health budget. Give
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them a message to stop cutting that budget." I notice there is more bouffant hair on some of the members of the Opposition, although the honourable member for South Coast does not have much to bouffant, but he is doing his best after his visit to Jeff.

The members of the Opposition realise that no other State Liberal Minister supports the Federal Government's move in this direction, that they are the only ones. That raises the question, "Why?", which was answered by the debate today. The National Party did not turn up because it does not support the Federal cuts. The National Party knows that its constituents are going to hurt, and the genius who ran the election campaign for the Liberal Party and delivered Gladesville, Parramatta before that, and Badgerys Creek to Labor has no doubt at all, when he turns his mind to the electoral cycle that what will happen is that this decision will return to bite the members of the Opposition. The coalition has supported the decimation of the Federal responsibility on health. [Time expired.]

Question - That the motion be agreed to - put.

The House divided.
Ayes, 51

Ms Allan Mr Markham
Mr Amery Mr Martin
Mr Anderson Ms Meagher
Ms Andrews Mr Mills
Mr Aquilina Ms Moore
Mrs Beamer Mr Moss
Mr Carr Mr Nagle
Mr Clough Mr Neilly
Mr Crittenden Ms Nori
Mr Debus Mr E. T. Page
Mr Face Mr Price
Mr Gaudry Dr Refshauge
Mr Gibson Mr Rogan
Mrs Grusovin Mr Rumble
Ms Hall Mr Scully
Mr Harrison Mr Shedden
Ms Harrison Mr Stewart
Mr Hunter Mr Sullivan
Mr Iemma Mr Tripodi
Mr Knight Mr Watkins
Mr Knowles Mr Whelan
Mr Langton Mr Woods
Mr Lynch Mr Yeadon
Dr Macdonald Tellers,
Mr McBride Mr Beckroge
Mr McManus Mr Thompson
Noes, 42

Mr Armstrong Mr O'Farrell
Mr Beck Mr D. L. Page
Mr Blackmore Mr Peacocke
Mr Brogden Mr Phillips
Mr Chappell Mr Photios
Mrs Chikarovski Mr Richardson
Mr Cruickshank Mr Rixon
Mr Debnam Mr Rozzoli
Mr Downy Mr Schipp
Mr Ellis Mr Schultz
Ms Ficarra Mrs Skinner
Mr Fraser Mr Small
Mr Glachan Mr Smith
Mr Hartcher Mr Souris
Mr Hazzard Mr Tink
Mr Humpherson Mr J. H. Turner
Dr Kernohan Mr R. W. Turner
Mr Kinross Mr Windsor
Mr MacCarthy
Mr Merton Tellers,
Mr Oakeshott Mr Jeffery
Mr O'Doherty Mr Kerr

Mrs Lo Po' Mr Collins

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Motion agreed to.