Topics: Productivity Commission mental health inquiry; drug use; Bill Shorten
What will this review do that other reviews haven’t done in the past?
This is about saving lives and protecting lives. In particular, it’s about ensuring that we have the best international and domestic cases and a real focus on the opportunity for the workplace to provide stronger identification and stronger treatment for people who are in the workplace but do have mental health challenges.
Is there any chance that the review could lead to a reduction in funding for mental health treatment and care?
None. Not one chance. This is about ensuring that we have more effective outcomes and above all else, that each life within the economy, within society and within the workplace has a better chance of better treatment.
We lead the world in our youth mental health services. We lead the world in our primary care. I think that we can do far better within our hospitals and far better in the discharge of those who have attempted suicide from the hospitals.
My advice is that that’s an area where Australia can do much better; it’s been primarily within the responsibility of the states, but we’re stepping up through the beyondblue program to focus on suicide recovery after somebody has attempted and been discharged from hospital.
As the Health Minister, how concerned are you about the level of drug use or illegal drug use in the Defence Force?
Well around the country this is a challenge. I was in Western Australia last week and I have to say the single most common issue that was raised with me was methamphetamines within rural and outer metropolitan Western Australia.
So across the country, whether it is methamphetamines or opioids or other forms of synthetic drugs, this is a national challenge. That’s why our drug and alcohol work and recovery plan has been so important. But we’ll continue to do more and I know that for the Prime Minister and for myself, it’s a deep personal passion.
How worried are you about Bill Shorten’s election platform – his promise of a fair go for all Australians. Do you think that will cut through?
Look, his real promise is that people will have higher taxes and higher costs of living, and if you’re paying more for your electricity, if you’re taking home less in your pay packet, you should be very worried about what Bill Shorten is proposing.
Last time he was in government, he blew the budget and he left a catastrophic impact for future generations. He’s opposed every attempt to bring the budget back into surplus along the way and his only solution now is to increase your cost of living and to decrease your take home pay.
Thank you very much.