Spending on public hospitals

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott are going to have a debate on health. Next Tuesday at the Press Club. I suspect it’s going to be about which vision of big government will better provide health outcomes. I think everyone agrees that ‘local control’ is important – but nobody quite agrees what ‘local’ actually means. There is going to be a bit of name-calling too; Dr Death v Mr Stripped-a-billion-dollars-out-of-public-hospitals. Rudd did used to get called ‘Dr Death’ in Queensland in the mid-90s but I don’t recall that this was due to hospital policy at the time – maybe that can be cleared up in the comments. It is not clear that Abbott stipped a billion dollars out of public hospitals. Actually, he didn’t.

See this table from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.


I graphed the dollars going into public hospitals from the Commonwealth and also the States.

So how does the AIHW describe this state of affairs?

The Australian Government’s share of public hospital funding was lower (39.2%) in 2007–08 than it had been at the start of the period (1997–98) when it was 42.5%. This reduction in the share of funding occurred between 2000–01 and 2006–07 and was due to growth in the state and territory governments’ funding exceeding that of the Australian Government in each of those years. By 2006–07, the Australian Government’s share had fallen to its lowest point during the decade (38.6%) (Table 4.5).

No talk there of money being stripped out of public hospitals. I also compared growth in spendng on public hospitals to GDP growth (using GDP growth data from the AIHW).

As I said over at ABC The Drum

All governments like to think that increasing the amount of money thrown at problems will solve that problem. But, as we now know from the Rudd government stimulus package, the quality of spend can be more important than the quantity of spending.

So on Tuesday hopefully Rudd and Abbott will be able to talk about what they propose in addition to throwing more of the long-suffering taxpayers money at health.

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6 Responses to Spending on public hospitals

  1. Infidel Tiger

    Will the National Press Club be bringing out the debate worm? That’d be a laugh with a room full of ALP stooges, sorry, journalists in attendance.

  2. Sinclair Davidson

    Will the Press Club bring in an audience at all? Those journos there are so slack.

  3. C.L.

    Today’s stunt was more about Rudd’s political health than it was about health “reform.” His approval rating has dropped, the insulation/incineration affair is the worst public policy debacle in modern Australian history, Abbott is dominating all debates, backbenchers are openly discussing Gillard as leader and, on Monday night, the prime minister endured the humiliation of a fence-mending powwow brought on by his serial abuse of colleagues – who are known to despise him. Today was all about defibrillating Kevin.

  4. Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop

    perhaps you need to read footnotes Sinkers.

    This is NOT the amounts being debated by anyone.

  5. Entropy

    I understand from my boss (who worked for Rudd at the time) he was called Dr Death because of the way he treated you if you didn’t meet his demands at any time.

    I also think it had something to do withe way he treated a bunch of DGs that we shafted in order to make way for their own people when Goss got in. They were put together in a single room above a condom shop with no phone. The last of them stood it for six months. But Rudd could say they weren’t sacked.

    He hasn’t done this in Canberra, except for that diplomat fellow.

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