The Rann Government still had not announced details of more than half of the $10 million in cuts to the country health budget for this year.
“It appears that Premier Mike Rann and Health Minister John Hill will not announce details of these savage cuts until after the Frome by-election on 17 January next year,” Liberal MLC Rob Lucas said today.
“In evidence to today’s meeting of the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee, Dr Tony Sherbon, Chief Executive of the Health Department, confirmed that only $4.6 million of savings for this year had been achieved through increased federal funding being achieved for nursing home patients resident in country hospitals.
“These budget savings of $31 million over the three years 2008-11 were originally announced by Treasurer Kevin Foley almost 18 months ago at the release of the 2007-08 Budget.
“Dr Sherbon confirmed that, even though the Rann Government had announced it had changed its country health policy, it had not changed its policy of requiring the $31 million budget cut over three years.”
Dr Sherbon: “No, I have received no alternative instructions from Treasury as to targets … The $10 million savings target for 2008-09 to which you referred in the budget papers is still a target we are expected to meet”
(Hansard, 8 December 2008, Budget and Finance Committee)
“Dr Sherbon was unable to rule out the possibility of major cuts to budgets for maintenance, minor works and equipment purchases in country hospitals in response to questions today,” he said.
“Given the delay in decision making the cuts will have to be savage as cuts of $5.4 million will have to be achieved in probably the last 4-5 months of this financial year.”