Julia Gillard secured a tentative win for the federal government on the weekend at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting yesterday, progressing Kevin Rudd’s problematic plight for healthcare reform by securing in-principle support for a revamped health deal.

It has long been touted as the biggest proposed reform of Australia’s health system since the introduction of Medicare. Gillard however made some major changes to Rudd’s original deal.

After an epic meeting that lasted between 6 – 12 hours (depending on which news report you read, and whether it counts an extended lunch period), Gillard confirmed there will be no clawback of the GST, a $16.4 billion sweeter in federal money for hospitals over the next decade and a guarantee that no state will be a single stethoscope worse off.

The deal hasn’t been signed, sealed or delivered. The finer details will be ironed out in the next COAG meeting in mid 2011. Said Gillard on ABC’s AM program this morning:

“Sure, the fine details have to be nutted out.

“Take for example the national body, the national pool that will guarantee transparency.

“Yesterday we agreed to put that into law. The details of that legislation have to be typed up and worked through. You’d expect that.”

What she can also expect is further complications down the track. Most obviously there is the issue of the NSW state election in March, which everybody and their dog predict will result in a change to a Coalition government, which means Gillard will need to get a new premier on side.

Here’s a snapshot of how the press are reporting yesterday’s meeting.

The Australian

James Massola: Gillard resets health parameters

The Prime Minister’s health deal is a big win – but it comes as she slumps again in the polls.


Gillard hails COAG health deal

After more than seven hours of talks at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting at Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday, the leaders finally put pen to paper on a heads of agreement for a health reform plan that Ms Gillard described as a “huge step forward”.’

Samantha Hawley: Health reform deal signed but not sealed

The agreement might sound familiar, but former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s health and hospitals deal, struck less than 12 months ago, is gone for good.

Sydney Morning Herald

Lenore Taylor: Deal leaves PM’s reforms a picture of good health

Julia Gillard said 2011 would be her year of ”delivery”. She is learning how hard it will be to ”deliver” on all the mouldering old political problems that are clogging up her in-tray.

Herald Sun

Malcolm Farr: Julia Gillard, state leaders seal deal over health funding at COAG meeting

It was a breakthrough for the Prime Minister who is badly trailing Opposition Leader Tony Abbott despite a series of Liberal controversies.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey