Thursday, 3 September 2020
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Health Care
My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government is supporting Australians by continuing to guarantee the provision of essential health services and medicines through the COVID-19 pandemic?
Opposition members interjecting—
I want to thank the member for Reid, who comes to this place with a great history of advocacy and practice in mental health.
Over the course of the pandemic, we've continued to invest in mental health, not just for the pandemic but as part of a two-thirds increase for mental health over the life of this government—new funding for aged-care support in mental health; new funding for headspace; new funding for eating disorder clinics; and new funding for adult mental health clinics around the country.
On top of that, we've also struck, with our pharmacists, a new five-year agreement—in the middle of the pandemic—an extra $1.5 billion which will help with the guarantee of 200 million PBS scripts a year. In addition to that, we've also been able to strike a $131.4 billion once-in-five-year hospital agreement which has, at its heart, the funding of increased services, with an extra $31.4 billion for our hospitals but also the innovative role of Hospital in the Home, especially with regard to mental health and orthopaedic recovery.
All of these things have occurred whilst we've been battling and managing the COVID outbreak. We know that in a global pandemic, at almost 26 million people, we have seen eight out of eight states and territories initially succeed, flatten that curve and beat that virus. And now, with seven out of eight—and one state still challenged with lockdowns, curfews and five-kilometre movement limits—we are making progress.
Throughout that time, we closed the borders on 1 February to help protect and save Australians. We took action which was early. We put in place a testing regime which has been recognised as one of the broadest and most accurate in the world by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. We put in place a tracing regime which around the country has been successful, and we pumped support into Victoria through the ADF to assist them to bring their standards up to the rest of the country. That's been an immensely important part of helping to recover from the Victorian crisis.
In addition to that, the work that we're doing has seen us invest in over 28.2 million telehealth consultations, a system created to protect Australians, a system which has then been built upon with $1.5 billion going in to support Australians in aged care. What we've done with our hospitals is a public hospitals agreement and a private hospitals agreement, specifically for COVID, as well as surge workforce. All of these things have put Australia in one of the strongest places in the world. I want to thank our health workers and honour our health workers, and we will continue to fight to protect the health of Australians.