Queensland’s premier is calling for Canberra to play less of a role in running hospitals and questioned the relevance of federal departments.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has questioned the relevance of commonwealth health and education departments.
The states and territories are furious at federal Treasurer Joe Hockey for cutting $80 billion from the portfolios for the next decade – with Mr Newman suggesting the states get access to commonwealth revenue for schools and hospitals.
Health and education funding will move to a less-generous model in 2017 and 2018, based on inflation and population growth.
With all premiers and chief ministers meeting in Sydney on Sunday, Mr Newman queried the relevance of the federal health and education departments and their 9000 staff.
“What are they doing?” Mr Newman told reporters in Brisbane.
“Especially if the prime minister is saying the states are the ones that run health and education.”
The premier said Canberra didn’t need to administer local health boards.
“Let’s define who does what, then exit those areas that have overlap,” he said.
Mr Newman also criticised short-term federal-state partnerships, but declined to say whether he wanted direct access to income tax revenue.
“The states need to be assured that one way or another they have direct access to revenue streams that will fund hospitals and schools in the way we need to see funded,” he said.
“We need to secure long-term funding streams that actually grow in line with the way costs grow.”
Earlier, Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls said the federal budget cuts could affect Queensland’s hospitals and schools.
“You would have to wait longer to get treatment at a hospital because we wouldn’t be able to have as many doctors or nurses on hand to be able to treat people,” he told Fairfax Radio.
“In terms of classrooms, it might mean not as many teachers being able to be employed to teach the kids that are coming through school.”
Mr Nicholls said raising the GST was a matter for the federal government, and didn’t think it was appropriate for Queensland to lead any campaign for change.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was a bit rich for Mr Newman to criticise Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s budget cuts.
“Now all of a sudden you’ve got him crying wolf at Tony Abbott – for goodness sake, Tony Abbott used Campbell Newman’s budget cuts as his own blueprint,” she told reporters.