THE HON GREG HUNT MP
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE
INTERVIEW WITH ANGELA COX AND MATT DORAN
Subjects: Continuous Glucose Monitoring for Type One Diabetes, Listing of Medications on the PBS, Retirement, Minister Anne Ruston
MATT DORAN: Well Aussies with type one diabetes will be thrown a multimillion-dollar lifeline under a re-elected Morrison Government. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is today unveiling Coalition plans to boost Australia’s healthcare, including $270 million to make treatment more affordable for those with type one diabetes.
ANGELA COX: The Prime Minister is announcing who will be the next Health Minister with Greg Hunt retiring from politics and not seeking re-election. His replacement will be South Australian Senator Anne Ruston, who’s currently Minister for Families and Social Services. And Greg Hunt joins us live now. So, is this your final announcement as Health Minister?
GREG HUNT: Oh no, it’s five weeks of intense focus between now and the election and today’s announcement is all about supporting patients with type one diabetes. Continuous glucose monitoring is an immensely important technology that allows them to manage their insulin levels. It gives patients confidence and peace of mind and it helps save lives and protect lives. So it means that for 130,000 patients around the country, they’ll have access to continuous glucose monitoring and that will be subsidised with savings of up to $5,000 a year from the first of July. So just a really important human announcement that will make a difference to people.
DORAN: And that number includes an additional 71,000 Australians with type one diabetes as well?
DORAN: Just talk us through how this will change the lives of those who will benefit from this initiative if you could Minister.
HUNT: So just talking with families, what it means is often if somebody is sleeping through the night, they may have fluctuating levels in terms of their insulin in the body. The continuous glucose monitoring allows that to be monitored overnight. It means that if there’s a dangerous level, either the pump can kick in or they can be alerted and woken up. It makes a huge difference to families, people of any age, who have CGM or continuous glucose monitoring. It’s about a modern approach to treating diabetes. It makes a massive difference not just a peace of mind, but to actual health outcomes and to be able to support and subsidise this comes from when you’ve got a strong economic situation, it means that more patients will have better health and people can manage diabetes as a part of life, not as something that’s life altering.
COX: Minister, today’s announcement includes an extra $8 billion for health but it doesn’t say where that money is going. Are there more announcements to come, are you going to tell us now this morning?
HUNT: What we’ve done is over the course of the Budget, so in the broader Budget, we’ve invested enormously, there’s $132 billion for health just this year, or over $500 billion over the four years. And so, today in particular, we’re focusing on continuous glucose monitoring, but also new medicines for prostate cancer and for multiple myeloma, which is a blood cancer, and that’ll respectively help 1,000 people for prostate cancer say $40,000 a year but most importantly, have a life changing, life extending potentially life saving treatment. And 230 people save $145,000 a year for multiple myeloma, so just really important transformations in the lives of cancer patients from the first of May. So these are all part of the things which we’re doing.
DORAN: The other key health issue of course set to define the election, COVID. From tomorrow people arriving from overseas won’t have to be COVID tested, the first cruise ship will arrive just days after a new variant has been detected here. What do you say to people who are feeling perhaps quite naturally anxious about opening the floodgates?
HUNT: Well, I think we’re taking cautious steps that are based off medical advice, and of all the countries in the world, Australia now has one of the highest vaccination rates, one of the lowest rates of loss of life and one of the strongest economic recoveries. Along with Japan, we’re one of only two of 38 OECD countries to have a whole of nation vaccination rate of over 80 per cent, a loss of life of under 300 per 1 million and unemployment of 4 per cent or below. So we’re well prepared. Our health system is strong. Obviously, you know, amongst your viewers, multiple people will have experienced COVID in their family, they’ve been able to manage it. And this is about making sure we can move forward with confidence. We have the new treatments, molnupiravir and paxlovid, which are making a difference. We have the vaccination and so I’m so proud of how Australians have dealt with this, but this is about moving forward safely and with confidence.
COX: The Prime Minister, as we said, has announced Anne Ruston to be your replacement. Do you guys run the risk of looking a little cocky? We’re only a week into a very long election campaign, there are some concerns Scott Morrison comes off as a bit arrogant and cocky. Do you run the risk of looking bad? Why are you already naming new ministers?
HUNT: No, I think this is sensible because it’s understandable that people would wish to know who is my successor, who would be managing health in a new government. We’d equally be keen to know who will be the Labor’s defence spokesperson, if they would win. That’s such an important point and that’s obviously up in the air. So what the PM is doing is actually providing certainty. We never presume, we’re in an incredibly important battle for the future of Australia. It’s about the economy. It’s about making sure that as a result we’re able to provide the services and in Anne Ruston, we have somebody who is immensely well prepared, both with her own personal history but also her professional work, taking care of Australia’s welfare budget and overseeing support for people and so she’s an enormously capable person.
COX: So just quickly before you go, Minister, one week down, do you feel like your odds are better after last week?
HUNT: Look, I think this has exposed that ultimately, and I’ve been in Parliament for two decades and I’ve seen many different things, but ultimately I think that, people are saying to me: ‘gee, we’re not sure that Anthony Albanese is up to it.’ Others are saying to me: ‘gee, I don’t think he’s up to it.’ And that’s what’s come through because to manage the country, you’ve got to manage the economy and if you don’t understand the economy, you don’t have a feel for the economy, you can’t manage the country.
DORAN: Well, Minister, we’re really grateful for your time on Easter Sunday. Thank you very much for joining us.
HUNT: Take care and great news for Australia’s type one diabetics and their families.