Interview on Today on Sunday with Allison Langdon
Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's interview on Today with Allison Langdon regarding the $200 million to list new cancer treatments on the PBS and the creation of a Medicare item for heart health checks from April 1.
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health
24 February 2019
Topics: $200 million to list new cancer treatments on the PBS; the creation of a Medicare item for heart health checks from April 1; Julie Bishop
Well, the Federal Government will today announce $200 million to list breakthrough new cancer medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. And for more we’re joined now by Health Minister Greg Hunt. A very good morning to you, Minister. What type of cancers will these new medicines treat and how much will the drugs now cost patients?
Good morning Ali. So these are breakthrough new medicines for leukaemia, kidney cancer, bladder cancer and liver cancer. In some cases they would have cost $250,000 or a quarter of a million dollars a year. Now they’ll be down to as little as $6.50 a script.
And what that means is lifesaving medicines within the reach of every Australian and, most amazingly, one of them, Venetoclax for leukaemia, was developed here in Australia and it’s going to go around the world and save lives and protect lives and Australians will have access to it.
This is a big announcement today and there’s, in further health news, a pledge by both you and Labor to fund heart health checks on Medicare from April 1. Will this be for everyone?
Yes, these are checks that are available to every Australian that needs them. We’ll be delivering them on the first of April which is just a fantastic outcome. It means a better chance for people to have a proper test with their doctor. They can see whether there are any issues either around their lifestyle or whether any further action needs to be taken.
And when you bring together these two big things of $200 million for four breakthrough cancer medicines and what we’re doing in terms of heart checks in Medicare and cardiac treatment. Both of them are about saving lives and protecting lives and they’re things you can only get to do if you’ve got a really strong economy which means you can afford to invest and to list every medicine without fear or favour, and to change the practice that happened I think in 2011 when the previous government stopped listing medicines.
Well, Minister, we are still a good three months out from an election. You are behind in the polls, although the latest Ipsos Poll had you behind by only two points. Can we expect a series of very big spending election promises?
Well, our goal is to fund the things that should be funded, the essential services. That’s what you get when you’ve got a strong economy. So, it’s not about the money it’s about the services. But, again, you can only do this if you’ve got a really strong economy. So whether it’s in education, in my area of health and medicine and, in particular, new medicines, medical research, mental health, things that are so important to so many Australians.
There’ll be important investments continuing on the work of what we’ve done. Whether it’s the Australian Brain Cancer Mission or the Million Minds Mental Health Mission, or what we’re doing in terms of cardiac and heart health, a new mission that’s coming forward. These are deep, long-term investments that will give Australians a better chance at better health.
Now, former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, she announced her retirement from politics this week, as we all know. Do you believe the internal politics of your party played a role in her decision?
Look, I won’t go into her particular reasons, I think she spelt them out eloquently within the Parliament. I do know that she was offered a place as Foreign Minister by Scott Morrison, that was well-reported at the time, and for her reasons she’s made her decision. But she’s made an immense contribution to Australia, just an immense contribution to Australia and I want to honour and thank her for her work.
How much of a loss is she to your party? I was reading in one of the papers today that the Coalition had a problem with women, you now have a catastrophe.
Well, I’d respectfully disagree. We always want more high-quality women, and I know that just in the seat of Higgins today there’s a very high-quality field, a series of amazingly capable women are running, and the preselectors will make their decisions. But whether its people such as Amanda Stoker, Nicolle Flint, Sarah Henderson, Linda Reynolds, you’ve got incredible people coming through, candidates such as Kate Ashmor or Jacinta Price - a brilliant young Indigenous woman running in the Northern Territory.
We’re bringing people in, we’re attracting new ones, but I would continue to encourage more brilliant women to put their hand up. I think you can only be fully successful as a sports team, and that’s been my approach in selecting medical leaders, if you’ve got your full team on the field, and that’s what my goal is and what our goal is.
All right, well, Minister, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
Thanks very much.
Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Somerville, Victoria.