National health reform

21 April 2010

Associate Professor Anne Twomey comments on the Rudd Government's pledge to take this issue to a referendum if the States do not accept its plan in an interview on 702 ABC Radio Sydney Breakfast with Adam Spencer.

Associate Professor Anne Twomey says referendums are very hard to get up in Australia.

"Referenda have to be passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, and most of them are about giving extra power to the Commonwealth, so people 'smell a rat' and vote against it.

"Kevin Rudd and Nicola Roxon keep on talking about putting this issue to a referendum, but nobody has said what the terms of it would be."

Associate Professor Twomey also says that with opposition from the States, even if there is bipartisan support at the Federal level, the referendum usually fails.

"The Opposition would not likely support it, and a number of States would probably oppose it.

"The big issue is whether the terms of the referendum would be a complete takeover of health or the current plan.

"The referendum proposal was really just a PR exercise anyway, but the Commonwealth could substantially do what it is proposing to do by using the corporations power, because nearly all hospitals are corporations."

Contact: Greg Sherington

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