House debates

Tuesday, 13 February 2024

Questions without Notice


2:51 pm

Photo of Tony ZappiaTony Zappia (Makin, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health and Aged Care. Minister, why are Labor's tax cuts good for healthcare workers and their patients? How will the tax cuts build on the Albanese government's actions to make medicines cheaper? How is the government ensuring that Australians are able to access affordable medicines after a decade of cuts and neglect?

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | | Hansard source

I think the member for Makin, a 10-time national powerlifting champion who represented his country at three separate world championships. And he's represented his community in the north and north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide for almost five decades as a councillor and then a mayor and now a member in this place.

There are 78,000 taxpayers in the electorate of Makin. On 1 July, Labor will deliver every single one of them a tax cut to help with the cost of living. Many of them work in health, including at the terrific Modbury Hospital, which celebrated its 50th anniversary only recently. A third-year nurse working at Modbury will receive a tax cut on 1 July of $1,520, more than double what they would have received under the plans of those opposite.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Barker is warned.

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | | Hansard source

A cleaner at Modbury will receive a tax cut of more than $1,000, or four times what they would have received under the plan from those opposite—hardworking health and hospital workers earning more money and keeping more of what they own.

These bigger, better tax cuts for middle Australia build on all of the other cost-of-living measures that this government has been rolling out, like cheaper medicines. Only last year, in one year, Australian patients saved $250 million from our cheaper medicines policies, and they will save even more this year. In a couple of weeks, around 100 more medicines will be able to be supplied for 60 days at the cost of just a single script, saving patients time as well as much more money.

The Treasurer's responsible budget management also means that we've been able to list dozens and dozens of new cutting-edge medicines on the PBS. This month, I'm delighted to say that we've listed a new immunotherapy drug, Opdualag, for advanced melanoma. As this year's terrific Australians of the Year, Georgina Long and Richard Scolyer, reminded us, Australia tragically has its own national cancer—melanoma. There are 20,000 Australians diagnosed every single year and, even though survival rates have improved dramatically in recent times, still on every single day about four Australians lose their lives. Opdualag will give new hope to around 1,000 Australian patients every year whose melanoma either is unable to reach surgically removed or has become a metastatic. It would usually cost $315,000 for a course of treatment. From this month, though, it will just cost PBS prices.

Cheaper medicines aren't just good for the hip pocket in a cost-of-living crisis; they also mean that middle Australia can access the world's best treatment at affordable prices—all part of our commitment to strengthen Medicare but also to help with the cost of living.