Healthcare Funding

28 Jun 2018 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby) (16:07): I'm pleased to speak on this matter today. I want to congratulate the Minister for Health and the Minister for Aged Care on the wonderful work they are doing in the health and ageing sectors. The Minister for Health demonstrates such care and compassion in speaking to patients suffering from conditions like endometriosis or chronic pain. It makes me very proud to be a member of the Turnbull government. The Minister for Aged Care has helped me convene and conduct several fora for my senior Australians. He is a truly inspiring senior Australian himself and is doing wonderful work to look after all our senior Australians.

We, the Turnbull government, are achieving record funding for our healthcare system in Australia. We have record GP bulk-billing rates of 85.8 per cent, which in my electorate alone means residents can visit their doctor without any out-of-pocket cost, thanks to the introduction of an additional 22,000 GP services. In the 2018-2019 budget we announced a $2.4 billion investment for new medicines on the PBS, including $1 billion set aside for the provision of future medicines. In fact, since coming to government we have listed one new medicine per day on average—and these are often life-saving medications—with an overall investment of about $9 billion. These are things like treatments for stage IV clear cell variant renal cell carcinoma, which would otherwise cost one patient $129,000 per year—completely out of reach for most Australians.

Through Kisqali, we're investing $703 million to support women with breast cancer. Otherwise, these women would have to pay $71,000 each to access this medication. The medication Spinraza, for spinal muscular atrophy, would cost patients $367,000 each per year. These are life-changing, life-saving medications that this government is funding.

Unfortunately, those opposite have a terrible track record, whether it's the federal Labor Party or the state Labor Party in my home state of South Australia. I need to once again remind the House of the dreadful things that the now, thankfully, former Weatherill state Labor government did in South Australia. They cut $7.4 million of funding for public hospitals between 2015 and 2016 and a further $20 million of funding between 2014 and 2016. The state Labor government shut down the iconic Repat hospital. That was a devastating decision for veterans in our community, many of whom had been treated there. It was a devastating decision for my community, and I'm so pleased to see that the Marshall Liberal government in South Australia is already reopening services on the Repat site so that people in my community can once again use the hydrotherapy pool, for example, which is absolutely critical for rehabilitation services.

I want to reflect on one of the incredible things that the Minister for Health has worked with me on and that I'm very passionate about, and that's the issue of endometriosis. Once again, because we are the party of responsible government, because we are balancing the budget, we've been able to begin to invest in finding cures and better treatments for this terrible disease that affects women.

Already we have committed $1 million in the May budget towards awareness and education within the medical profession because we know there are a lot of medical practitioners who are still not aware of what endometriosis is, the sorts of support and treatment that women need to access and how critical early intervention and treatment is. We announced a further $2.5 million from the Medical Research Future Fund, which will be used to accelerate research and make areas of endo research a priority once the National Action Plan for Endometriosis is launched, which will occur very soon. I'm very proud of our record in the health space.