A senior Gillard Government minister has refused at Senate Estimates to let officers from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet explain the timeline of the scrapping of the former Prime Minister‟s health reforms.
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Shadow Minster for Ageing and Shadow Minister for Mental Health, was attempting to get confirmation of what the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Terry Moran, told state and territory officials at a dinner at Melbourne‟s Sarti Restaurant on 3 February 2011.
“Mr Moran‟s comments at the dinner were reported in the Weekend Australian of 5 February 2011 but Senator Chris Evans refused to let two senior departmental officials answer questions about it at Estimates,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells said. “This was a major Rudd election promise that Ms Gillard was dumping. Here we have the Prime Minister adopting a crash or crash-through approach, signalling to the states that her position on health reform is not negotiable. All we are asking for is transparency and accountability.
“Ms Gillard flagged her new health reforms on 11 February and at a media conference after the COAG meeting on 13 February 2011 she used the words transparency, transparent and transparently 29 times in reference to the health reforms.
“The public have every right to know why Mr Rudd‟s program was scrapped. Ms Gillard has promised to let the sunshine in but this line of questioning was met with non-answers. We need to know if the Minister for Health, Ms Roxon, and the Secretary of the Department of Health, Jane Halton, were involved in the discussions to abandon Mr Rudd‟s program.
“As the Government says „Operation Sunlight is the Government‟s reform agenda to improve the openness and transparency of public sector budgetary and financial management and to promote good governance practices. The original policy and reforms were detailed in Operation Sunlight – enhanced budget transparency; a practical suite of measures to enhance budget transparency and were developed after extensive consultation with a range of academics, journalists, and professional analysts.‟*
“On health reform we are still in the dark.”