‘No hard feelings on health plan’

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally says she has no hard feelings towards Prime Minister Kevin Rudd after their meeting to discuss proposed sweeping health reforms.

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Speculation has focused on apparent tensions between the pair during Friday’s get-together.

However, Keneally told ABC Radio on Monday the talks were productive, adding that more are need to ensure the proposals are right for the state.

“There has been an extraordinary amount of pop psychology applied to what was about five or ten seconds of a nearly one-hour meeting,” Keneally said when asked about claims the PM was rude and dismissive.

“We had a very productive discussion. I focus on the positive, I see this as a great opportunity for NSW, to secure much-needed health funding.”

Asked if there were any hard feelings between the pair, Keneally replied: “No, not at all”.

GST re-distributed

Under the federal reform plan, the states would be stripped of some GST revenue, with the government using the cash to contribute 60 per cent of hospital funding.

“We had a very productive discussion.

“We did cover many of the issues that NSW has raised but I think both sides acknowledged there is more discussion that needs to occur.

“We are talking about a health system not just a hospital syste … and that’s why it’s important we understand precisely what the Commonwealth proposes.

“I’ve always said NSW welcomes this very historic opportunity to bring what is needed change to our health systems, but what we do need to do is be sure that what sign up to is in the best interests of families in NSW.

More talks needed

“These are issues we need to work through before we can be confident in the proposal and it’s the right one for our state.”

Keneally says she sought assurances from Rudd about weighting, to allow rural and regional hospitals to meet efficiency targets more easily.

She said the Prime Minister indicated that weighting would occur.

Authorities meet to discuss plan

A NSW Government seminar to discuss Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s proposed hospital reforms begins in Sydney today, and will consider funding, governance and the impact on rural and remote hospitals.

Greens Senator Bob Brown warned the PM over the weekend that he must communicate better on the scheme, after a mixed reaction from health authorities nationwide.

The seminar at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital will be co-chaired by former federal Nationals leader Ian Sinclair, NSW Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt and and former Commonwealth chief medical officer Judith Whitworth.

Under changes announced by PM Rudd last week, Canberra will take over 60 per cent of funding for state-run public hospitals by redirecting some revenue from the Goods and Services tax that currently goes entirely to the states.