Subjects: Labor’s rehashed health announcement, Medicare, Speculation on the next Health Minister, Retirement
Now the Opposition have been out and about on the campaign trail today, Anthony Albanese using a major health policy to rollout 50 emergency clinics across the country in an effort too to regain control of his campaign after of course that economic gaffe the other day.
But it’s interesting, because already he’s been accused and the Labor Party of plagiarising an announcement from the 2007 election campaign when Kevin Rudd, who was on the hustings, as it turned out very successfully, promised at that stage to build 35 GP super clinics across the country.
And today, as I say, Anthony Albanese is saying that he’s going to have 50 Emergency clinics across Australia. $135 million dollars to ease pressures on public hospitals around Australia.
Joining us this morning as the federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt. Minister, good morning.
And good morning to you.
Do you think this is a little bit of a do over? Can you see similarities in this? What happened to Mr. Rudd’s promise?
So, this is the super clinics promise from Kevin Rudd, which was probably the biggest health disaster under their government other than stopping the medicines.
And what we’re seeing here is a quarter of the funding that was there under Mr. Rudd, but 15 years later, and it was a disaster then.
They failed to build half of them, they failed to run them to the hours they said, they failed to reach the bulk billing levels they said but most importantly, these things threaten your local general practice.
I mean, it should be about supporting the 8,000 general practices we have which is what we’ve just done with 100 million telehealth consultations, made telehealth permanent, made it universal.
That’s how you support everybody, everywhere, rather than a program which they’ve tried once and failed badly on last time.
It literally was just an unmitigated disaster according to both the AMA and the Auditor General of Australia.
Well, that was what I suspected.
I mean, I’m going to be accused of giving you a free kick here but you know, I wouldn’t have the chance to do that if they had been successful, because there’d be nothing to criticise.
So today’s announcement, we sort of wind back the clock a bit and we say instead of 35 that Kevin Rudd promised, now Anthony Albanese says 50. But he says the 50 urgent care clinics will be based in GP surgeries and community health centres.
So is that helping GPs?
Well, the answer is pretty simple, the AMA has called the policy incoherent.
So we’ve had a little bit of a debate I have to say within the Coalition, is he worse at economics or worse at health? My view is that it turns out he’s worse health policy than economics.
We know there are a few issues with understanding how the economy works, Mr. Albanese. But not understanding that we have 8000 general practices in Australia, that telehealth is what’s transformed that, the biggest change since Medicare was started with $5 billion dollars of invested funds, and then to focus on something which puts ordinary general practices at risk.
I’m in Queensland today I’ve been on Bribie Island. We’ve been at Bribie Doctors, they have their own emergency centre and they were saying to me, well, why would somebody not want to use what we got and all the other general practices around the country and supporting us?
We’ve just put down a $1.7 billion, ten-year plan for what’s called primary care, for our doctors and others, and that’s supporting every practice in Australia rather than picking a selected few and then last time, they couldn’t do it within the money and they had four times the money 15 years ago.
So it was a disaster then, it would be a disaster now, short of stopping the medicines, it was their biggest failure.
You know, you know this better than any one minister? What is it about health?
I mean, I know it affects everybody, but every single time the default position during a campaign is Medicare.
Even when there are no complaints about Medicare, which is a rarity. I grant you but you know, the Medicare thing comes out.
Strengthen Medicare, protect Medicare, even when people are not even talking about weakening Medicare. It drives me crazy.
Look, I think there’s pure politics here, unfortunately, where there’s this perception in the ALP that maybe if they talk about it, people might think that there’s some sort of challenge or threat.
Having put in place and overseen universal, permanent telehealth with 100 million consultations and having seen funding go from $19 billion to $36 billion on our watch, what I know is that these are the most significant changes in Medicare to strengthen and improve it since Medicare was created.
And weird things like trying to re-heat a disastrous super clinic’s policy, I don’t know where they’re getting their medical advice, but if you lose the general practices who’ve been out, wildly critical of it today, it means they obviously haven’t been talking to the medical community and we take our medical advice from the doctors.
I’m not sure where they take their medical advice from, but it sounds more like they’re taking it from the spin doctors than the actual doctors.
Now look, you won’t be there after the next election because you’re leaving.
Who do you think will be the replacement, your replacement as federal Health Minister if you got back into government?
Look an entirely fair question, the PM has said he’ll name that successor within a week.
There are some outstanding colleagues, I understandably won’t speculate although it’s perfectly reasonable for you to ask.
What I can guarantee is that that will remain known within the next week, I suspect long before we know who would be Mr. Albanese’s Defence Minister or Home Affairs Minister.
So we’re very clear on our national security. There’ll be a successor named within the next week.
And most importantly though, they take with them the absolute commitment to telehealth, made permanent, to the work in terms of the national hospital agreement, but then medicine, never stopping the listing of medicines again, mental health and medical research and they’re the things which is saving lives every day.
All right, and on May the 22nd, on the Sunday morning when you get the Canberra gold watch, we’ve spoken about this before. Where are you going? What are you doing?
May the 22nd I’m planning a long walk along the beach with my wife.
Don’t go on a short jetty.
No, I mean, as she said to me, she said, a marriage is for life, but maybe not for lunch. So don’t expect that you’re going to spend all your time with me.
So we’re really excited. You know, I’ve got kids who are 12 and 17, year seven, year 11, so, finally focusing on him for the first time and doing some work in the mental health space.
The rest will take care of itself.
Right now though, it’s finals season, I mean, a grand final and we’re playing to the future of the country and what’s more clear than ever, is the PM knows the direction, I don’t think Mr. Albanese knows how the economy works.
Now I’m convinced he doesn’t even understand how the health system works.
Minister, good to catch up with you, thanks for your time.
Take care everyone
Greg Hunt, the federal Health Minister.