Wednesday, 7 September 2022
Questions without Notice
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
I thank Senator Payman for her question and for her extraordinary speech that we were privileged to listen to yesterday. The cost-of-living crisis that this government inherited is a decade in the making and it will not be solved overnight, but the Albanese government has already hit the ground running, successfully arguing for an increase in the minimum wage—something not argued under those opposite—introducing legislation which will drive investment in cleaner cheaper energy and putting downward pressure on power prices, also something you could never see from a coalition government.
Today we are introducing legislation to make medicine cheaper for millions of Australians. For the first time in its 75-year history, the maximum cost of general scripts under the PBS will fall. On 1 January we are cutting the cost of general scripts by 29 per cent, with the maximum cost to drop by $12 50, dropping the price from $42.50 to $30. This will save someone taking one medication $150 year; a family with two or three medications, $300 to $450 a year. We know patients continue to tell community pharmacies of the increasing pressures of having to choose between food on the table and medicine for their family.
This morning at Capital Chemist in Kingston, the Prime Minister met Greg, a single dad whose son lives with type 1 diabetes. Greg told the Prime Minister that the government's plan to cut the cost of medicine will make an enormous difference to his family, an enormous difference. It will ensure he can continue to afford the life-saving medicine his son needs.
So what I say to those opposite, who are interjecting about how long it's taken, is: we've been in government for just over 100 days, and you were in government for about 3,000 days, but we are the ones who are actually introducing legislation— (Time expired)
Well, the maximum cost to general patients for PBS medications has doubled since the year 2000, and of course, regrettably for Australians, those opposite, when in government, did so little to help. In fact, the ABS advises that the high cost of medications on your watch—
You don't know like the truth, do you? You don't like the truth. The ABS advises that a million Australians were delayed or didn't fill their medication prescriptions in 2019-20. They were left in the lurch by the coalition. Cutting the maximum price by nearly one-third will mean more people can afford to get the medications they need to stay healthy, and the change will put close to $200 million back into the pockets of Australians each year—the same Australians who were left in the lurch by a coalition who was more interested in political games than delivering for Australians. (Time expired)
Approximately 19 million Australians are eligible to benefit from this change, with about 3.6 million Australians to immediately benefit once the legislation comes into effect. Those of us on this side understand that making medicines cheaper will ease the squeeze on household budgets for so many Australians. But another difference between us and them is that we on this side understand that Medicare and the PBS are the foundations of Australia's world-class healthcare system. And do you know why we understand that? Because they're Labor reforms. They're both initiatives of Labor governments, and it is only Labor governments that make these nation-building reforms to transform the lives of Australians: the PBS, a legacy of the Curtin and Chifley governments, and, of course, Medicare, a legacy of the Hawke government. This government will continue to strengthen both Medicare and the PBS. (Time expired)