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Readers grill Prime Minister on hot topics
Prime Minister Julia Gillard answers questions in a live chat at thewest.com.au. Picture: Sharon Smith / The West Australian.

Education, health reforms and the Federal Government's obsession with a Budget surplus were the main issues when readers of thewest.com.au quizzed Julia Gillard in a live chat yesterday.

Readers took a keen interest in the planned education reforms based on the Gonski review, with queries about whether schools could manage their funding based on their unique needs rather than have a bureaucrat in Canberra do it.

Questions reflected cynicism about the Budget surplus, given the expensive promises made in recent weeks.

Ms Gillard assured readers the Government had managed to save more than $100 billion through "tough decisions", such as means-testing the private health insurance rebate.

She insisted it was not too early to return the Budget to surplus in 2012-2013 because Australia came out of the global financial crisis well and its economy was "the envy of the world".

The first participant asked how she got on "personally" with Colin Barnett.

Ms Gillard said she had worked well with the Premier on a number of issues and was pleased he had told her yesterday he had an "open mind" on working together to achieve education reform.

There was a question about the sweeping plan to give millions of children and low-income earners free dental care under a $4 billion package.

Ms Gillard promised the scheme would "blitz" dental care waiting lists, which had spiralled out of control.