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Federal Government and LNP bicker over Queensland health

A DISPUTE has broken out between the Federal Government and the LNP over funding for Queensland Health.

Federal Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd yesterday said the Federal Government would cut nearly $350 million of funding to Queensland Health over the next four years.

The Federal Government fired back, saying that claim was wrong and a funding increase of $600 million would take place during that time.

Mr O'Dowd said a retrospective cut has been revealed of $40 million to Queensland's share of the National Healthcare Special Purpose Payment for 2011-12 and an additional round of funding cuts had slashed Queensland's share of National Healthcare Reform funding this year by $63.3million.

Mr O'Dowd Also said Treasurer Wayne Swan's health budget cuts would increase to $95 million in 2015-2016, making the reduction to Queensland Health equal to $341.8 million over the next four years.

Those numbers were completely rejected by a spokesman for Health Minister Tanya Plibersek

"The Gillard Government's investment in Queensland's health continues to grow despite claims to the contrary," the spokesperson said.

"These claims are part of a desperate attempt to divert attention from the savage cuts the LNP has made to the health system in Queensland.

"This three card trick will not fool Queenslanders, who are well aware Campbell Newman just sacked 4,140 health workers and cut funding for services such as breast screening and preventative health programs.

"Mr Newman is cutting frontline services including nurses, dental services while his own budget papers confirmed he is slashing $1.6 billion from frontline services.

"In the meantime, the Gillard Government's 2012-13 Budget update says that funding for health in Queensland will increase by 21% over the next four years, going from $3.1 billion in 2012-2013 to $3.7 billion in 2015-16. That's an extra $600 million.

"The modest adjustment in growth forecasts in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) were based on a formula agreed to by the Queensland Government.

"The adjustment is based on ABS revised population figures and lower than anticipated increases in health costs as a result of the high Australian dollar."

The difference between the scenarios described by each side couldn't be greater.

Mr O'Dowd said the cuts, as he saw them, would be damaging for central Queensland.

"What this means for Central Queensland in 2012-13 is an immediate loss of $4.8 million worth of funding, which will increase year on year for four years," Mr O'Dowd said.

"In regional electorates like Flynn, robust health networks are a vital necessity given the distances between population centres, and to cut Federal funding at a time of such growth is a disgrace.

"Hospitals in Gladstone, Emerald and Rockhampton have been under immense pressure as a result of years of bad Labor management and the last thing they need now is to be short-changed by an equally incompetent Federal Labor Government" he said.

LNP Candidate for Capricornia Michelle Landry also hit out at the Federal Government, describing the apparant cuts as "yet another example of Labor's absolute disregard for regional areas."

"Realistically what we have here is an example of federal Labor's flagrant lack of understanding as to the importance of regional areas like Central Queensland. The Government is happy to take as much revenue as can be generated by the resources sector in our region but is clearly unwilling to give back in the form of essential services like health," said Ms Landry.

Mr O'Dowd continued: "Despite the fiscal mess left behind by the former state Labor government, the State LNP Government has still managed to increase health spending relative to other jurisdictions.

"And all week in Parliament we witnessed a conga line of Federal Labor MP's standing up in the House to kick the State Government for trying to rectify their economy when their own Government has made savage and unforseen cuts to our vital health networks.

"If they thought we wouldn't notice they were wrong, Gladstone hospital has enough problems as it is without this slap in the face.

"The Government is pillaging our defence budget and is now targeting health funding, the sooner we have an election to provide the Coalition an opportunity to correct this governance train-wreck the better.

"Our regional communities like Gladstone and Emerald need and deserve our support and under a Coalition Government they will get it."   

Topics:  cq health, federal government, federal member for flynn, health cuts, ken odowd, lnp, queensland health



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