Greg Hunt

Federal Member for Flinders | Minister for Health

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Transcript - 2GB interview with Ben Fordham

Monday, 15 May 2017


Topics: Sportsbet ad; Newspoll; record bulk billing figures

I understand that television networks have received a significant number of complaints after screening this ad over the weekend, and now the federal Sports Minister Greg Hunt is calling for the ad to be pulled. Greg Hunt joins us on the line. Minister, good afternoon.

And g’day, Ben.

Strange use of Ben Johnson to advertise a product.

Well, it is. This is a known drug cheat. They’re glorifying a drug cheat and they’re paying a known drug cheat a huge princely sum of money.

So it’s an insult to clean athletes and, frankly, my view is they should pull the ad and they should pay the same amount to junior sport as they paid a known drug cheat. It’s pretty shabby by Sportsbet.

They reckon that he may have earned $200,000 out of the appearance.

Well, that’s what’s been reported. I think Sportsbet should come clean.

They should tell us how much they’re paying him, and then I will keep pressuring them to make the same contribution to junior sport.

I’d rather them be encouraging young athletes, young men and women, young boys and girls who are coming through, whether it’s in netball or soccer or league or football, to have a real shot at improving their sport, rather than paying some guy who’s just an out-and-out drug cheat, a blight on sport.

Australians have a pretty loose sense of humour when it comes to having a laugh. I mean, we don’t mind pushing the limits and having a bit of a laugh around the edges, and sometimes in some pretty dark areas as well when comedy is concerned.

They say that’s all they’re doing; they’re having a laugh to try and, I suppose, promote their product and get attention.

I think they’re laughing all the way to the bank, and there are laws and then there are standards, and in my view this breaches acceptable community standards.

I’m no wowser in this space, that’s not been my history, but I was frankly shocked on the weekend. As a dad, I was watching the footy one evening and I just went, whoa…

And that’s the drama, isn’t it?

And I’ve got a little ten year old boy, and maybe he was up a bit late, you know …

I was about say, that’s the drama. You’re sitting there with children watching sport and they say, dad, who’s that? And you say that’s Ben Johnson, he was a drug cheat, he took steroids to win a gold medal.

Yeah. Well, it was just sending a message that cheating’s okay and should be rewarded and laughed at and glorified.

And remember this: you’ve got all of these Australian athletes and swimmers and cyclists who are out there, they compete clean and they’re against people from other countries, and we saw what happened with so many Russian athletes before the last Olympic Games, and so they do it hard and they’re not being sponsored.

And some guy who chooses his way to be across the line first, but thankfully had it stripped from him, gets paid a motser, a princely sum by a firm which claims to be doing the right thing by Australian sport. Well, there are plenty of funny ads out there, but this one’s paying a drug cheat.

Alright. There are two new polls out today showing the Turnbull Government has failed to secure a Budget bounce – not that too many people were expecting one – but there is some good news in this poll.

More than half of the respondents to the latest Newspoll support the 0.5 per cent Medicare levy hike to cover the funding gap of the NDIS. Does that give you some encouragement?

Look, I think it is an important measure. Labor covered half the costs when they were in government and it’s our turn to cover the other half.

We tried to do it with savings; those savings were just wildly and widely blocked by the Labor Party, that’s their choice, and so what we’re doing here is saying, well, we can either not cover people with mental and physical disabilities, or we can use exactly the same mechanism that Labor used.

But most importantly, every Australian has a stake in ensuring that, if it comes to be their time, that they are covered and it’s paid on a fair, proportionate basis, that if somebody’s earning 10 times what some of your listeners are earning they’ll be paying 10 times the amount, if you’re earning one tenth of what a higher income person is earning you’ll be paying one tenth.

So it’s a genuine insurance scheme which is there for every Australian who currently has a disability, but any of us who could fall into that tragic situation.

We’re talking to Greg Hunt, who is the federal Sports Minister, also the federal Minister for Health. I understand that there are some strong figures out today, Minister, in regards to bulk billing and Medicare, the highest bulk billing rate for any March quarter since the inception of Medicare. So, what, more of us going to the doctor without having to pay?

That’s it. What does bulk billing mean? It means you go to the doctor and you don’t have to pay. And, in fact, under us the Medicare bulk billing figures have continued to rise.

We’ve just had the highest March quarter ever. The last three quarters have all been the highest versus any previous similar quarter, so it’s getting stronger and stronger …

Alright, well wouldn’t we be going further towards tackling the debt if more of us were paying to go and see the doctor?

Well, look, the key thing is for people to have choice, and some people will go and choose to pay to see the doctor because they might be able to get in a little bit faster.

But for pensioners, for low income earners, for many of the people who are listening to us today, they live in very tight financial circumstances, and if they can get to the doctor without having to worry about getting to the doctor I think that’s a good thing.

Thanks for your time.

Cheers, Ben.


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