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Health policy will need broad consensus: Grattan

Though we don’t yet know the final result of the 2016 federal election, the vote as it stands will already have an impact on future health policy.

Dr Stephen Duckett, health program director at the Grattan Institute, said regardless of what happens in the House of Representatives, the government will have to negotiate to get things through the Senate.

“I think we're in for a time when the only policies that will be getting up are ones about which there is a broad consensus,” he said.

This would include health policy, including that surrounding Medicare. Duckett said: “Assuming the Liberals are returned, I think they won't be able to pursue privatisation policies because they just won't get through the Senate, even if they do get through the House of Representatives.”

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association chief executive Alison Verhoeven said whatever the final composition of Australia's next government, there has been a clear message from voters that primary health, hospitals and Medicare matter.

“Health is a national priority for the Australian people and it must be a priority for our elected representatives,” she said. “It is not sensible for political leaders to dismiss reasonable concerns from voters about the adequacy of public hospital funding and the ever-increasing out-of-pocket costs for healthcare.”

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation federal secretary Lee Thomas echoed that point, saying the weekend’s result showed that the nation’s health is a top priority for Australians.

Thomas said: “The election shows that whichever party forms government must put health and aged care at the centre of their policy agenda for the sake of all Australians.”

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