House debates

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Questions without Notice


2:39 pm

Photo of Ross VastaRoss Vasta (Bonner, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister update the House on how the government is delivering the essential services Australians rely on in health? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches to delivering the essential services Australians rely upon?

2:40 pm

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

I thank the member for Bonner, who knows that it is absolutely essential to have a strong economy to deliver the very essential services to which he refers. He knows this because of history—because in 2011 a previous government stopped listing the medicines. And who was the Assistant Treasurer in that year at that time? The hand that was on the budget papers was the now Leader of the Opposition, the person who's going to deliver a budget-in-reply speech tonight. He was the person who stopped listing the medicine. By contrast, we have a Prime Minister whose proudest claim is to have helped list—within the cabinet as Treasurer and as Prime Minister—2,000 new medicines during the course of this government.

So this election there will be a choice when it comes to managing health—a choice between the man who stopped the medicines and the man who has delivered the medicines. This might be the night when the Leader of the Opposition, if wants to say anything on health, might apologise for stopping the listing of new medicines when he was the Assistant Treasurer. And it wasn't just a casual phase; it was there in the budget of their day. Let me quote what that budget said:

… given the current fiscal environment, the listing of some medicines would be deferred until fiscal circumstances permit.

What that means is they ran out of money and they stopped listing medicines. That's what happened. That means severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, endometriosis, in vitro fertilisation and chronic schizophrenia.

By contrast, we have been able to lift Medicare spending from $19 billion to, in the coming year, $26 billion and to $27 billion, $29 billion and $31 billion over the forward estimates and to lift hospital spending from $13 billion to $23 billion, to $24 billion, to $25 billion and to $26 billion. Perhaps, most importantly of all, we've brought new medicines onto the PBS, such as Orkambi and Spinraza—for which the Prime Minister played such an important role—for spinal muscular atrophy; and new medicines this week, such as Ibrance for breast cancer, Besponsa and Bavencio for Merkel cell carcinoma. So, when it comes to this election, there will be a choice in health. It will be a choice between the 'Medifrauds' in Labor and the 'Medifriends' in the coalition.