South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said that the public hospitals could be closed down if the state fails to raise enough revenue for health systems. The premier said the possibility of an increase in the GST is becoming increasingly unlikely and he has also refused to raise state taxes.
Weatherill said that closing more public hospitals is definitely an option if another solution to the funding problem is not found.
The $80 billion cut promised in health funding under the coalition government’s first budget is partly responsible for the closing down of the Repatriation General Hospital at Daw Park in 2017.
“We said this right at the start if we don’t get a solution to funding the public hospital system. Absolutely that (closing hospitals) is certainly a prospect,” the Advertiser quoted Weatherill as saying. “If you think some of the changes we’re proposing are challenging and controversial, imagine if we have to live with these $80 billion in cuts.”
When asked if he was raising concerns, he replied “its reality.”
Weatherill advocated for a 15 percent increase in GST in exchange for a share of the income tax which could be spent on health.
“What we’re seeing though is this infantile debate where somehow you can focus on one revenue measure and just criticize that, it insults the intelligence of the Australian people to conduct a debate like that,” the News Corp quoted him as telling reporters on Monday.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has, however, ruled out the contention of raising the GST unless it is proven to drive economic growth.
“It does look like it’s off the table if you read what the Prime Minister said,” Weatherill told reporters this afternoon, as quoted by the Advertiser. “You’d have to say it’s looking pretty sick. (But) there are other measures that could be used to fill the health and education funding gap.”
These measures, according to Weatherill, are bringing financial services to the realm if GST, increasing the Medicare levy as proposed by the Victorian and Queensland premiers or bringing down the superannuation benefits of the high-income earners.