Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Tuesday a takeover remains possible, as his government was handed a report by the Health and Hospitals Reform Commission it set up to examine reform options.
Before the 2007 federal election, Labor said it would seek a mandate for a federal takeover of public hospitals if the states and territories had not begun implementing a national reform plan by midway through this year.
Mr Barnett said West Australians had built and paid for their hospitals and generally speaking had a good health system.
“We will not entertain an attempt by the commonwealth to nationalise our health system and our hospitals, it just won’t happen,” Mr Barnett told reporters in Perth.
“We have a good health system in this state and we have a good health service in Australia.
“If someone is seriously ill, suffers a serious injury, they get the world’s best treatment, and let’s not forget that.
“That is not true around the globe, including among some of the wealthy developed nations.”
Health and education
Health and education were two areas where service delivery should be maintained by the states, Mr Barnett said.
“Imagine a scenario, a member of your family is ill and you have to ring and contact a bureaucrat in Canberra about a local health issue … it’s just not on,” he said.
“Health, education need to be managed and delivered locally.
“They are both areas of partnership between the commonwealth and the state but the service delivery to the people of Western Australia is best managed at a local level.
“The state government will not hand over our hospitals, they belong to the people of Western Australia, we paid for them, we built them, we operate them.”
Hockey attacks government
Mr Barnett’s federal Liberal colleague Joe Hockey called on the federal government to keep its election promise, saying no Australian believed the nation’s hospitals had been fixed.
But Mr Hockey said he could not give unequivocal support to any takeover plan without knowing its details.
Mr Rudd and federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the government would wait until it had carefully considered the final report of the Health and Hospitals Reform Commission.