House debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Questions without Notice

Health Care

2:38 pm

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, congratulations on your election. I've had cause overnight to reflect on some of the practical jokes I played on you in your first term and wish I hadn't! But, in any event, my question is to the Minister for Health and Aged Care. Will the minister please advise the House on how the Morrison government is supporting the health security of all Australians by investing in vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 while continuing to invest in other medicines, including those that assist Australians with a diagnosis of prostate cancer?

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

Mr Speaker, congratulations. I particularly want to acknowledge the work of the member for Barker in supporting the mental health of people in rural Australia during the course of the pandemic. One of our great national health security achievements has been to see that, in 2020, when many expected tragedy on a terrible scale, the rate of suicide in Australia went down. There's more to do, but it's one of our great achievements together as a chamber, as a parliament, as a government and as a nation.

Another great thing is that we now have one of the lowest rates of loss of life to COVID in the world. At the same time, we have one of the highest rates of vaccination and the strongest economic recovery in the world. In particular, we have now, through this vaccination program, passed the vaccination averages for first doses of the EU, the G7, the OECD, the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, Germany and now France. All of these things are saving lives and protecting lives at a time when there've been 600,000 cases worldwide in one day and 7,000 lives lost in one day worldwide.

The vaccination rate of 91.8 per cent for first dose and 85.8 per cent for second dose is protecting Australians. But, at the same time, we're also investing in treatments—ronapreve along with sotrovimab—to make sure that we have hospital infusions that are already protecting and treating Australians and bringing down the loss of life, even for those that are in hospital at this point in time. They are critical treatments. We've acquired 300,000 units of Molnupiruvir and 500,000 units of the Pfizer protein inhibitor. All of these things are saving lives and protecting lives now and will in the future as those new treatments are approved and, therefore, made available.

At the same time, we've also been continuing our work in the listing of new medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This program, which has been a staple of Australia's health condition, with one issue in 2011, is fundamental to the protection of Australians. On 1 November, at the start of November, we were able to list a new medicine for prostate cancer, Nubeqa. Nubeqa is going to help 1,000 Australian men save $40,000 a year and, much more importantly than the money saved, give them access to a life-changing, life-improving and, in some cases, life-saving treatment. Vaccines, COVID treatments, treatments for prostate cancer and treatments for numerous conditions—these are the things that are saving lives. (Time expired)