Greg Hunt

Federal Member for Flinders | Minister for Health


Weekend Sunrise Interview with Matt Doran and Monique Wright

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Topics: Turnbull Government’s $100 million fund to fight brain cancer; citizenship

Joining us now from Melbourne is the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. Good morning, Greg, thanks for joining us.

Good morning.

Let me ask you, how is this funding and the partnership initiative going to actually help brain cancer sufferers to try to conquer this disease?

So as you say, brain cancer is just a terrible condition. It has survival rates of 22 per cent and whilst we’ve been able to make massive progress with conditions such as leukaemia, melanoma, breast cancer, this globally has been a challenge.

So, the $100 million fund will aim to provide clinical trials. We want to get every Australian who has brain cancer the opportunity to be part of a clinical trial to address their particular type of brain cancer, there are more than 100 subtypes, and at the end of the day our goal is to halve mortality rates over the course of the next decade, but ultimately to defeat it as part of a global initiative.

Minister, it’s a terrific announcement. Of course the push has been on for a very long time for brain cancer to get much needed funding. Why has it taken so long?

Well this is only my first few months in the role and it’s something that both myself and the Prime Minister wanted to do.

We’ve created this as the first national mission under the Medical Research Future Fund. And whilst there’s been considerable funding in the past, this is the moment where with the development of new medical breakthroughs called immunotherapies and targeted therapies and proton beam therapy, we can make the real push.

And we’ve brought together some of the best medical experts, not just in Australia but in the world, to provide the guiding framework.

We’re bringing the funds, the philanthropic community through people such as Andrew Forrest and the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation have come to the cause and I think we can do something which is profound and in decades hence will be looked back upon as a really important moment for patients, for parents, and for medical research.

Yeah, wonderful initiative. Minister, let me ask just about the issue of governance of this country as well while we’ve got you. The Government looks to be in all sorts following this citizenship debacle. How did the PM as well as the ministers like yourself feel sitting in cabinet with ministers Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash who really knew they, I guess, shouldn’t be there – was that a bit uncomfortable?

No. With respect, we always adhere to the processes of the High Court and nobody should ever presume an outcome in a situation such as that. And I know that on Thursday …

But the Prime Minister did, Minister.

Well, no he gave his best judgement off the basis of the Solicitor General’s advice, really one of the outstanding legal minds of the country. I know on Thursday Fiona Nash was in Senate Estimates and did a tremendous jobs.

Yeah, but it was incorrect.

Sorry, go ahead.

It was incorrect, that advice that he was given. You just said that no one should pre-empt what the High Court was going to say, but the Prime Minister did exactly that.

No. With respect, he passed forward the best legal advice that we had and the way it works is that somebody is a member of Parliament, a member of the Government until such time as there is a finding to the contrary.

We’re getting on with the job, but just as we are this morning with this incredibly important announcement in relation to brain cancer survival, medical research, the same things are occurring right across the Government.

We’ve just had the best employment figures ever for Australia, over 371,000 jobs. So real things are occurring. There’s a political debate on the side and we won’t presume anything in the case of the seat of New England with Barnaby Joyce, but we’ll fight because he’ll fight for them.

Alright, Minister. Look we really appreciate your time. Congratulations on the announcement this morning for brain cancer research.

Thanks very much.

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