In a last ditch effort to push through his ambitious Health Reform plan Prime Minister Kevin Rudd continues to bunker down with state and territory leaders in Canberra.
The outcome of the discussion won’t be known for sometime but leaders are remaining tight lipped on proceedings.
Lisa Kingsberry reports.
Health was top of the agenda at the Council of Australian Governments meeting and, a tough topic.
Anna Bligh, Premier Queensland: “There is a mood of hard work in the room. People are working on finding an answer but we haven’t found it yet. Is it possible? Yes. Has it been achieved? No.”
Mr Rudd wants to take control of health and hospitals but in return, he wants the States to give up a third of their GST revenue.
But consensus on that is still some way off.
Colin Barnett, Premier Western Australia: “No. Western Australia will simply not give up the GST.”
John Brumby, Premier Victoria: “We’ve got a very strong view as you know about the GST but in relation to the other matters we’ve always said that I think we can make a lot of progress.”
The Federal Government promises to address the concerns.
Nicola Roxon, Federal Health Minister: “We are very optimistic that those plans will be considered carefully by the premiers and that today’s meeting will be a hard fought one but hopefully one that delivers a good outcome for the Australian public.”
But Canberra has more hurdles to leap than GST.
Mental Health services are yet to be discussed although some agreement has been made on emergency care and elective surgeries.
Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister: “I think so far discussions are constructive. We’ve got a long way to go and I still think these are very tough and difficult negotiations.”
Mr Rudd says if COAG doesn’t agree on the health reforms he’ll take it to the people, with a national referendum.
Negotiations are expected to continue into the night.
Lisa Kingsberry, QUT News