House debates

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Constituency Statements

Health Care

10:23 am

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to talk about the very important issue of preventive health. We really do have one of the best healthcare systems in the world. It's a wonderful balance between public and private—public, because we can provide a safety net for all; private, so that we can provide choice for those who can afford it. But we can always do better. We know that in this country, just like in other developed countries all around the world, there is an increasing ageing population and a narrowing tax base, so our tax dollar is going to have to work harder in the healthcare system. We know it's about 30 per cent of our budget at the moment, but it is at risk of ballooning if we don't take steps to make sure we can contain the costs of our health care. We need to make our healthcare dollar work better.

What better way than in preventive health? We know that a dollar spent on preventive health can save dollars much further down the line. We also know it can save and protect lives. We need to make our taxpayers' dollar work harder and we need to move resources from the bottom of the cliff to the top of the cliff. We can no longer have a healthcare system that is like the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, waiting for patients to fall over. I know, as a paediatrician who has been working in the area of preventive health for my entire life, that there is so much we can do that is cost-effective. We know, as paediatricians, that immunisation is incredibly powerful in preventing health costs and health problems. But we also know that there are a whole lot of other things we can utilise here and now. So preventive health is going through this massive transformation, based on two very important issues, actually. The first is the issue of digitisation. We know there are now so many apps out there that can help people to get healthy—to help improve their diet or to get active, or to help with things like yoga and meditation, stopping smoking or avoiding using drugs.

We also know that genetics is transforming the way that we can do health care. In my previous life, I worked very hard in genetic health to prevent genetic discrimination, particularly in the area of haemochromatosis. If you give blood, you will not actually develop the disease, and so, by having a knowledge about genetic mutations for haemochromatosis and giving blood, you will never develop the disease. What a great genetic prevention tool that we can use! But, more than that, we need to take steps to prevent, to ensure that our kids of the next generation have the healthiest start to life.

I'd like to congratulate the government on its national preventive health policy, which is under development at the moment and is for update next year. But I would like to call for the establishment of a preventive health and health promotion mechanism to guide strategic directions, prioritise action and help allocate resources. We have the MBS. We have the MBAC. We need to have an independent body that will allow resources to be better allocated, because prevention is a long-term game and we need to make sure that we do better in this area. I'm proud to have established the Parliamentary Friends of Preventive Health. (Time expired)