Monday, 9 September 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Treasurer. Can the Treasurer confirm that under this coalition government business investment has fallen 20 per cent to its lowest level since the 1990s recession?
I can confirm that non-mining investment is growing 1.4 per cent through the year compared to negative 8.4 per cent through the year in which Labor left office. The record there is that, when it comes to non-mining investment, we have overseen a better result than the Labor Party did. In terms of the mining sector, we have seen a transition from the investment stage to the production phase. One of the positive points out of the national accounts for the June quarter is that mining investment is actually up. The reality is that under the coalition we are creating more than 1.4 million new jobs, we are lowering taxes and we are bringing the budget back into surplus. The question I have for the member for Hotham and for all those opposite is: why do they continue to talk down the Australian economy?
I've got to correct the Leader of the Opposition—I'm sort of loath to do so. The standing orders don't make provision for members of the opposition to answer them, but there is a long history of rhetorical questions being asked. I know it's frustrating, but I have a different issue with the Treasurer: I think he's straying off the subject matter of the question. I'd like him to confine himself to what was a specific question.
My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister update the House on how the stability and certainty of a strong economy helps to deliver essential health services, such as bulk-billing and support for ovarian cancer?
I want to thank the member for Reid, who comes to this place after a distinguished career as a child psychologist and somebody who has been deeply engaged in delivering services to Australian families. As a small business person, one of the things the member also knows is that in order for any business or any enterprise or any government to be successful they have to live within their means. By doing that, we've been able to support a growth in essential services right across the health sector. I was pleased only last week to be able to release new bulk-billing figures showing that more Australians than ever before are visiting the doctor for free. Since we came into government, the bulk-billing rate—the rate at which people are able to access GP services for free—has increased four per cent, from 82.2 per cent to an all-time record bulk-billing rate of 86.2 per cent. This means that over 86 out of every 100 visits to the GP are free. That means an increase in real terms of seven million bulk-billed visits to the doctor across Australia over the last year. That's good news for patients and it's good news for Australians who want to be able to access their health services.
But it's also part of a much broader investment in health. One of the issues which the member for Reid raised is ovarian cancer, and today we see the story of Jill Emberson, a wonderful, passionate Australian who has been battling ovarian cancer. She, along with many other courageous women, has been an advocate for more investment, more research and more clinical trials in this space.
I was delighted to announce earlier today that the Australian government will be investing, through the Medical Research Future Fund, an extra $15 million in rare cancers, rare diseases and clinical trials for ovarian cancer and other reproductive cancers. This means, whether it's in cervical cancer, perinatal cancer or testicular cancer, these investments will lead to real trials that will help Australian patients with treatments that they would otherwise not have been able to have access. It means that we will also be setting a path to new medicines being made available for all Australian patients—new medicines such as Lynparza, or olaparib, which has been made available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. And, for the 1,500 Australian women who face a diagnosis of ovarian cancer every year, for the 1,000 Australian women who tragically lose that battle, Jill's work and the work of patient advocates, the work of our medical researchers, will now be empowered, with additional trials and additional hope for Australian patients and Australians everywhere.