House debates

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Questions without Notice

Health Care

2:57 pm

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister outline to the House how the government's record investment in new medicines is underpinned by a strong economy? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

2:58 pm

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Fisher, who has been a great advocate since coming to this place, not just for new medicines but also for investment in mental health and, in particular, recognising the scourge of eating disorders. He has advocated for health expenditure, but he understands that it fundamentally comes from the ability to manage the economy, as we see with the creation of over 400,000 jobs in the last year—over 1,100 jobs a day on average. Those things are good in and of themselves, but they also underpin social expenditure, social investment and, in particular, investment in health.

It is only through a strong economy that you can support the health system. That means we are able to do things such as list $8.2 billion worth of new life-saving and life-improving drugs since coming to office. On 1 April another 11 new drugs are coming on board, in particular in areas such as diabetes, where the drug Xigduo will help over 170,000 Australians reduce the risk of hypoglycaemia, of having a hypo in the middle of the night, which for parents and sufferers is fundamentally important. Drugs for lung cancer, which would otherwise have cost up to $99,000 a year, will now be available on the PBS—for basal cell carcinoma, lymphoma, severe asthma and also for rheumatoid arthritis.

On that front, I actually received a letter this week from Casey Gardner of Brisbane, a 35-year-old mum, who wrote: 'I'm one of the 2,000 or so Australian patients that will benefit from pre-filled methotrexate syringes being added to the PBS.' This is for rheumatoid arthritis. She goes on to say: 'This listing means I can spend more time doing what I love, on what matters to me, to be with my husband and my daughter. The PBS has made this possible and, again, I just want to express my gratitude.'

Imagine, however, the alternative of being a party—and I mean the Labor Party—which deliberately deferred drug listings. They deliberately deferred drug listings! Look at every member of their frontbench who was on the frontbench of the previous government—

Ms Catherine King interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Ballarat is warned!

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

They deferred drugs for severe asthma. The very thing we are listing, they deferred: drug listings for asthma. They deferred drug listings for pulmonary conditions and for schizophrenia. What a bunch of people these are, that would pretend that they care about health!

Opposition members interjecting

No, seriously. These are people with an utter disrespect for the Australian public when they cut medicines that are fundamental for mental health, severe asthma and pulmonary conditions. There are two different approaches, completely— (Time expired)