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13 Feb 2019

Labor has promised to establish a permanent health reform commission if elected to government this year.

Delivering her address to the National Press Club in Canberra, Shadow Health Minister Catherine King said Australia was a long way off from achieving the universal healthcare system that was truly accessible and affordable for all.

“We can and must do better to deliver on the vision of Medicare,” she said, before outlining her plan for long-term health system reform.

Ms King said a Labor government would set up a health reform commission to be an independent, legislated body – comparable to the Productivity Commission – and charged with developing and overseeing a long-term health reform agenda that transcends election cycles.

“Where the Productivity Commission has an economic and financial focus, the Australian Health Reform Commission will focus on finding ways to improve our healthcare system and health outcomes for all Australians,” she said.

“It will be a body explicitly charged with reducing health inequality and improving the universality of our health system. And it won’t just develop long-term reforms – it will hold Governments accountable for delivering on them.

“Commissioners will be appointed for at least five years, giving them the time to develop rigorous and durable solutions that cannot easily be unpicked by one side of politics or another.

“And it will report not just to the Federal Health Minister but to all Governments through COAG – meaning a Federal Government will not be able to simply conceal or ignore inconvenient recommendations.”

Ms King said the commission’s recommendations would be public and governments would “ignore them at their own peril”.

It would have a broad mandate, with its priorities directed by COAG.

“I’m doing something unusual for a politician,” she said.

“I am acknowledging that no one Minister in one jurisdiction can solve the problems facing us alone. They’re simply too big. We have to work together.”

CHRIS JOHNSON


Published: 13 Feb 2019