PHOTO SHOOT: State and territory leaders and a local government representative join Tony Abbott at Sydney’s Victoria Barracks yesterday.
PHOTO SHOOT: State and territory leaders and a local government representative join Tony Abbott at Sydney’s Victoria Barracks yesterday. MICK TSIKAS

Health’s the top issue, but how to fund it remains a mystery

THE need to ensure more funding for state and territory health services had consensus among premiers and chief ministers ahead of a "leaders' retreat" with Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Sydney on Wednesday.

However, while the state leaders agreed on what needed to be funded, they remained split on how the funds should be raised.

Labor premiers Annastacia Palaszczuk and Daniel Andrews ruled out backing changes to the GST, but remained open to an increase in the Medicare levy.

Earlier in the day, Ms Palaszczuk told ABC Radio in Brisbane she was optimistic about the two-day meeting given health was the "number one issue".

She said if Mr Abbott wanted to change the GST, his "very clear option" was to take it to the people at the next election.

Ms Palaszczuk said the current 2% Medicare levy could rise to 4% gradually to fund health, but stressed it was only one option of many.

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird has been most vocal in urging a 50% increase in the GST, taking it from 10% to 15%.


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