Thursday, 29 November 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, Senator Scullion. Minister, how does a stronger economy enable this Liberal-National government to deliver record funding for Australian hospitals and Medicare without the need to increase taxes?
I thank the senator for that very important question, because as a Liberal-National government we have in fact been focusing on a strong economy, which enables us to guarantee the essential services that Australians rely on. Take Medicare, for example. In the last year of the former Labor government, the Commonwealth invested $19.5 billion in Medicare. This year, thanks to our strong economic management, we're able to afford $25 billion in funding to Medicare. Next year it will be $26 billion. By 2021-22 it will be $29 billion. We can afford that because we have the fewest people on welfare in 25 years and more taxpayers contributing to pay for the services that Australians rely on. We've been able to afford to end Labor's freeze on Medicare indexation, because they ran out of money by the end of their term in government and actually had to freeze Medicare. With bulk-billing there are now more Australians seeing their doctor without having to reach for their wallet than at any time since the inception of Medicare.
Take hospital funding. Funding from the Commonwealth for public hospitals has almost doubled under us since the last year of the Labor government—doubled! Since 2012-13, the Commonwealth has invested $13.3 billion in hospitals. Under our fully costed budget figures the Commonwealth will be investing $28.7 billion. Our new national hospitals agreement will also deliver an additional $30.9 billion for each state and territory. This is in stark contrast to those opposite, whose promises are completely unfunded and aren't worth the paper they're written on. The Australian people should never forget the con job Labor attempted at the last election. They promised $57 billion for hospitals but found only $2 billion in their budget figures—shameful! We should keep reminding Australians: don't listen to the rhetoric; compare our records. Without a strong economy, you cannot afford to make any of these investments.
The PBS is an essential service that guarantees life-saving medicines that thousands of Australians rely on. It needs a responsible government that can manage an economy to ensure that we can afford the medicines that Australians rely on. Our record is simply to list each and every medicine that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee recommends. So, since 2013 we have listed nearly 2,000 medicines, an average of about one a day, and we've invested over $10 billion. In practical terms, 4,000 patients with severe inflammatory spinal arthritis will benefit from the listing of Simponi, which will save patients more than $15,000 a year, and 22,000 patients with rheumatoid arthritis will no longer have to pay $16,500 a year for Olumiant. Recently we announced the listing of a life-saving HIV medicine, Juluca, for more than 850 people, saving them $10,000 a year. These are all life-saving drugs that we could not afford if we did not have strong economic management.
Being able to manage the economy enables the government to deliver affordable medicines to Australians who need them. This hasn't always been guaranteed. Who could forget the shameful mismanagement of the budget under the former Labor government and, of course, the impact on the PBS? The last Labor government reversed the coalition's policy to list all the medicines approved by the independent PBAC. That included medicines to treat the formulation of blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, endometriosis, IVF treatments and schizophrenia. But you don't have to take my word for it. Labor's own budget papers: 'The listing of some medicines would be deferred until fiscal circumstances permit.' And then they outlined the government's new position that all listings with a financial impact will now be instead considered by cabinet. At the time, along with Australia's largest patient organisation, they all joined together to slam that policy. That's what happens when you run out of money. You cannot be providing essential— (Time expired)