Tuesday, 17 October 2023
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Health and Aged Care. How is the Albanese Labor government working for Australia to make medicines cheaper, and why is the government making Medicare stronger after a decade of attacks on Medicare?
I thank the member for Blair. He's part of the magnificent class of 2007 and a relentless advocate for better health and aged care for his electorate, which is centred on Ipswich, the fastest-growing city in the fastest-growing state of our wonderful Commonwealth. He promised, at the last election, a Medicare urgent care clinic for his city of Ipswich, and in August he was able to deliver on that promise. It's a clinic that is open seven days a week until 10 pm in the evening, making it easier to see a doctor and, importantly, taking much-needed pressure off the emergency department at the Ipswich hotel—and the Ipswich Hospital as well! Importantly, it's fully bulk billed. All you need is your Medicare card. Every consultation is completely free of charge—as I get back on track!
We also know he's been a passionate advocate of the health and dignity of older Australians, which is why he is so delighted at our decision to, from 1 November, give five million Australians access to the latest cutting-edge vaccine for shingles completely free of charge. Right now they're paying $560 for that vaccine, but, from 1 November, they'll have access to the most comprehensive shingles vaccine program in the world. It's all part of our commitment on cheaper medicines. The House already knows that on 1 January we delivered the biggest cut to the price of medicines in the history of the PBS, cutting the cost of general scripts by $12 and saving patients right now around $20 million each and every single month.
That's a world away from the approach of the Leader of the Opposition when he was the health minister because his policy of course was to make medicines dearer, not cheaper, by trying to hike the cost of general scripts by $5 every time you went to the pharmacy and telling Australians at the time that that was the fair thing to do. Well, he hasn't changed. He opposed our latest chapter of cheaper medicines, which was to allow six million Australians to secure a 60-day supply of common medicines for the cost of a single script, which is about making medicines even cheaper, allowing better medication compliance, improving the individual health of patients and freeing up millions and millions of much-needed GP consults. His constant opposition won't shake the commitment, I can tell you, of the member for Blair and of all of those on this side of the House to keep on with the job of strengthening Medicare and delivering cheaper medicines.