Topics: Medicare at record levels; Labor’s poor record on PBS; Labor’s Medicare freeze;
Brian Owler; Walk for Autism.
Greg Hunt the federal Minister’s on the line. Minister, thanks for your time.
Did you freeze Medicare?
No. The previous government did and we know this because at the time Brian Owler attacked Labor.
He’s airbrushed his own comment from history. So they started the freeze and we ended it. We struck an agreement with the AMA with the last president Michael Gannon and we injected an extra $5.5 billion over the next ten years, so much so that Medicare when Labor was last in was about $19 billion.
This year it’s 25, next year it’s 26, the year after 27 billion and the year after 29 billion, so it goes up every year. But the real point here is the one thing Mr Owler was silent about was when Bill Shorten as assistant treasurer stopped listing new medicines, rejected the decision of the medical expert to stop listing new medicines that are quote, unquote; due to fiscal circumstances.
In other words they blew the budget and they blew the economy and they couldn’t list new medicines and I think the first question for Mr Owler is; why were you silent? And will you now condemn it?
And you’ve made it a personal ambition of yours to list as many new drugs on the PBS as you can afford.
Yeah exactly. On the weekend we lifted a new medicine for lung cancer.
(Inaudible) immunotherapy has been beyond the reach of Australians and families with crushing conditions; $190,000 a year medicine is now available for $39.50 or $6.40 – it’s called KEYTRUDA for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer.
It will help 850 Australians and the same thing for a new heart drug on the weekend which will help 6000 Australians, so thousands and thousands of dollars, but more importantly help save and protect their lives called Repatha.
And yet when Mr Shorten was the assistant treasurer, on his watch they officially deferred the listing of new medicines that the medical experts that recommended because of budgetary reasons – in other words they blew the budget – and Mr Owler was flat plain silent.
So, I think that says he doesn’t care much about health when Labor does bad things but he cares a lot about politics I’m sorry to say.
How is it that Bill Shorten can get away with this – and we’re going to hear this all the way until whenever the next election is.
I mean how is that you’re allowed to – and you’re a politician of great experience, you’ve been there a fair while and you stand up in front of the media every day, you give media interviews, you’re on television, radio – how can you stand there as a politician and just speak untruths?
Well you can’t and you shouldn’t. In the end everybody will be caught out. He got caught out last time.
But he doesn’t get caught out. He seems to just skate through this stuff.
Well, I would say this. Mr Shorten has to answer why he stopped listing these medicines, how he rejected the advice of the experts and did something basically unprecedented and that was to say well, we’re not going to list new medicines for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, for endometriosis, for IVF, schizophrenia, just critical conditions and procedures and they weren’t providing the medicine.
In the end he’s a fraud. I think that’s the best thing to say. This guy’s a rolled gold fraud that- hospital funding’s gone up every year.
It’s a record amount, up by 50 per cent compared with Labor was in. Medicare funding has rocketed from 19 to $25 billion and continues to go up.
But most importantly we’re listing the medicines and can’t trust Labor to list these medicines because they stopped doing it last time and they’ve never apologised, they’ve never explained and they won’t guarantee that they’ll continue our practice of listing all the new medicines.
He went further on Medicare, he said your government’s about privatising, cutting and outsourcing Medicare including using labour hire staff. Is any of that true?
Look, Medicare is completely owned by the government and in fact by legislation I guess. And so if you’ve got a $100 billion health system, of course some things will be done by government and some things will be done by contract.
Most of those contracts were inherited from the ALP and indeed we just always, always want to make sure that we’re getting the best outcome for taxpayers, but Medicare, it’s a game. With us the figures are going up, under them they brought the freeze in, we ended the freeze and so I’m just going to call him out over (inaudible) each time.
In the end when you stop listing these medicines, when you introduce a freeze which they did, we know, because Mr Owler actually attacked Bill Shorten, I’d love to hear what he has to say about that or in fact the then Labor government and you’re not investing properly in medical research as they weren’t that things aren’t right but when you’ve got the budget right then health gets right.
So Bill Shorten says Medicare will be the biggest issue at the next election. Is that right?
Oh well, good luck to him if he thinks that.
There’s a simple question. If you’re focused on health you’ve got to manage the economy because last time they blew the economy and they blew up the listing of new medicines.
Will he apologise for denying thousands of Australians their medicine because that’s actually what happened on his watch when he was assistant treasurer and Tanya Plibersek was the minister for health and so he put the two together and the two people who caused the problems last time were the two that want to run the country.
John Alexander managed to beat off the challenge from Kristina Keneally, a very high profile ex-premier of New South Wales, is he a good local candidate as far as you know?
Yeah, no he’s a fantastic local member.
He’s been one of the great advocates for the health sector within Australia, bringing clinical trials to Australia which means that people get to trial new medicines earlier, bringing the medical sector the Growth Plan to Australia so we’re able to develop new drugs and new devices here in this country.
His own electorate is one of the health care capitals of Australia and he’s really helped drive it. I remember he was doing without any idea that he would have a by-election, a walk for leukemia around his electorate, so something similar to what we’re doing and he was walking around his electorate, (inaudible) had the by-election.
That’s the sort of guy he is. He was out there doing something for health, actually delivering an outcome and he’s very very passionate about this.
You’re actually on a walk yourself in your seat of Flinders, you do it each year. I think this is the third or fourth time you’ve done it. This is 500kms. How far have you gone so far and this is a Walk for Autism. Explain why you have such a passion about that?
Yeah. So autism affects over 160,000 people and with the right care and support, autistic care to adults on the autism spectrum can have a brilliant life and many of them have extraordinary maths or music or coding capabilities, but if they’re not given the right care it can be very isolating.
So we’re supporting a local autism school in Abacus and the Light Up Autism Program.
I think we’ve raised a little over $70,000 last time and hopeful that we’ll do something similar this time and all the local families pitched in and we helped them find an old school building, they converted it, running brilliant programs and you meet the families and the kids and you hear what they’ve done.
For me I’m two days and 50 kilometres into a 19-day 500 kilometre walk and so…feet are a little bit sore but we’re doing okay.
We’re you’re a runner anyway so I’m sure you can survive walking 20ks a day. Health Minister, thanks for your time.
Thanks a lot.