Date published: 
25 November 2018
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

25 November 2018



E&OE…



Topics: $100 million to support type 1 diabetes patients, drinking water, Victoria state election.



GREG HUNT:

I’m delighted to be here at Frances Perry House today with Wes Carter, Dr Alison Nankervis, Greg Johnson from Diabetes Australia, the leaders of so many of our paediatric and other diabetic groups, and of course our wonderful patients such as Carlie and Kelly and Chelsea and Emma and all of the other patients and their beautiful little bubs and their parents, where it’s younger patients who are here today.



Frances Perry, of course, sees 3,000 beautiful young lives brought into the world each year. This is a place of hope and joy and professionalism. But it also deals with some of the many challenges that pregnancy brings and birth brings, and one of those is diabetes within pregnancy or gestational diabetes.



And we’ve met people today who’ve been managing that problem, and we know that for many Australians type 1 diabetes is a very serious challenge. One of the great fears is what happens in the middle of the night? Do I have a hypo? Does my son or daughter have a hypo? Particularly for pregnant and nursing mums this can be an extremely, profoundly important risk and something that can occupy an enormous amount of their waking lives as well.



So in that context I am delighted to announce today that the Federal Government will invest $100 million to provide continuous glucose monitoring and FreeStyle Libre or Flash glucose and diabetes assessment for pregnant and breastfeeding mums and those who are looking at conception with type 1 diabetes.



Secondly for Australians over the age of 21 with the highest need, those on concessional cards with type 1 diabetes, and also for a group of children who have diabetes and insulin-related conditions such as certain types of cystic fibrosis. It’s a small group, but those with very high need. We’ve recently been able to support cystic fibrosis with the listing of the life-transforming drug Orkambi. This is, as has been said to me today, a second great benefit.



So, these changes will literally help save lives and protect lives. It will help mums and bubs, it will help dads, it will help people right across Australia who are most in need, it’s transformative, it’s something we can only do with a strong economy.



And it’s an absolute privilege and a pleasure to be able to make this announcement today that as of the first of March 2019 the continuous glucose monitoring program will be expanded both in terms of the range of people but also in terms of the options for devices. The Flash glucose monitoring will now also be included alongside the Continuous Glucose Monitoring.



I’ll invite Greg Johnson from Diabetes Australia and Dr Alison Nankervis to speak from the Royal Women’s Hospital. Then we’d be happy to take any questions on this announcement and then I’ll be happy to take questions on other matters. Greg.



GREG JOHNSON:

Thank you, Minister. Today is a great day for the type 1 diabetes community in Australia. Everyone here, represented by many of the leading diabetes organisations in this country, thank and congratulate the Minister and the Australian Government for this important announcement. A hundred million dollars over four years will change lives and save lives for thousands of families and people affected by type 1 diabetes.



Importantly, what this does and we’ve heard from the Minister is mean that every woman who’s planning, with type 1 diabetes, who’s planning to have a baby, who’s having a baby, during the pregnancy and in the important post-partum period, can have appropriate glucose monitoring. It provides options here, which include Flash glucose monitoring, a newer technology, and other types of continuous glucose monitoring, and that’s really important because it’s not one size fits all.



We need to make sure that people with type 1 diabetes – mothers, kids, adults – can access the right diabetes monitoring technology for them at that time of their life. It can be life-changing, life-saving, and importantly the legacy benefits for kids here in terms of pregnancies and the lifelong benefits to the children who are born from type 1 diabetes pregnancies is really important. So this technology not only has an immediate impact during the pregnancy but it has a lifetime potential benefit to those kids who are born with it.



So an incredibly important announcement. We’re really delighted on behalf of the diabetes community in Australia. This is about type 1 diabetes, there are 120,000 Australians right now with type 1 diabetes and it’s growing at the rate of around 3,500 per year. So this problem continues to grow day by day. But a wonderful and important announcement so thank you.



DR ALISON NANKERVIS:

Minister Hunt and friends, it is just so delightful to be standing here, to be the recipient of really incredibly wonderful news for, particularly, women who are pregnant or wanting to become pregnant who have type 1 diabetes. I think one of the things that hasn’t been said is how hard these women work to try to get the best possible outcome of their pregnancies.



Not only diet and exercise but insulin pumps or many insulin injections a day and sometimes many, many finger prick blood glucose levels that are not painless. Maybe 10 or 15 a day, to try and get normal blood glucose levels, or as normal as possible, for their pregnancy. So that they can get the best possible outcome for their pregnancy.



So, to have the ability to measure their glucose continuously is an enormous benefit. It improves their safety, it largely improves their quality of life, it improves their diabetes control. And we have really good evidence that it also leads to these women having healthier babies. So I say thank you so very much for this wonderful initiative. Technology in diabetes is advancing very rapidly, and we’ll see the use of continuous glucose monitoring and pumps providing even greater benefits. But for all women who have type one diabetes who are pregnant or wanting to become pregnant, and those of us who care for them, thank you so much. This will make a very, very great difference to their lives and to the lives of their children.



GREG HUNT:

Just before taking any questions, I particularly want to pay tribute to the DANII Foundation. They started from the greatest of tragedies, but they have become a beacon of hope and a force of advocacy. So I would give yourselves a big clap as well.



All right, we’re happy to take any questions, firstly on the continuous glucose monitoring and then obviously on other matters.



JOURNALIST:

How much would this monitoring originally cost people without this money?



GREG HUNT:

This will save families up to $7,000 per year and it will cover 37,000 families all up who will now have access to continuous glucose monitoring. So it’s a big difference, and sometimes there is not just one but there may be a second person in the family who has type 1 diabetes. The nature of it, as we learnt from some of our families today, is that it can run through the generations. So a $7,000 saving a year.



JOURNALIST:

I’m not sure who’s the best to ask, but could you talk us through what the glucose monitoring actually does?



DR ALISON NANKERVIS:

Yes, okay, yes, absolutely. So, up until now the only way people with diabetes have been able to measure their blood glucose is by doing a fingerprint and measuring it on a little meter. So however many fingerprints every day. With continuous glucose monitoring, two types of monitoring, one that sits usually on the stomach with a little sensor that goes into the tissues underneath the skin and provides continuous measurements of glucose.



And more recently and I understand they’re also to be funded, which is fantastic – what we call Flash glucose monitoring. So, it’s a little thing that sits on the arm, you might have seen Theresa May wearing one. And that sits there for 14 days and whenever anybody wants a glucose all they have to do is do that and it will give them a continuous reading. It also provides a continuous reading, particularly through the night when people can be very at risk of low blood glucose levels, a very dicey time. So it’s really a transformative technology.



JOURNALIST:

So in simple terms, how much easier is it then for people to maintain steady levels?



DR ALISON NANKERVIS:

Okay, well, from the point of view of someone looking after both young adults with diabetes at the Royal Melbourne and also pregnant women with diabetes at the Royal Women’s, it is so much easier, it is so much more accurate. It leads to better control. We’ve got very, very good evidence about that. So all of the outcomes are incredibly positive. And the most positive thing is just the sense of confidence that women and young people have in their blood glucose levels. And yes, if they’re going to normalise their blood glucose levels it’s going to be with this sort of technology.



GREG JOHNSON:

Can I make a point. The great thing about this new technology is that instead of just having a single point in time measurement where you check your blood level and it tells you something, what it was at that moment, these devices tell you what’s going on over a period of time. It’s transforming for people with diabetes, for their families, and for the healthcare practitioners, because it’s new information.

You can see trends, you can see whether you’re going down or up, it can talk to another device, it talks to your mobile phone, you can send it to your friends or family. It is transforming technology.



JOURNALIST:

What is the uptake, though, of this time of technology? Because obviously some people prefer to use injections still and obviously that doesn’t give regular monitoring.



GREG JOHNSON:

Yes. Look, choice and options are critical here. It is not one size fits all. Every person’s diabetes is different and it changes over time in their life, through pregnancy, after pregnancy, as they get older and age. So it’s important that the technology changes with the person and it’s the right technology at the right time. And of course, there’s a lot of new developments happening. So a great thing with this announcement is Flash monitoring, is being introduced, and it’s providing that flexibility to say: it isn’t one size fits all. It may be for this person Flash is best; maybe for another person CGM is the best.



So, those options, those choices that the person with diabetes, the family and the healthcare practitioner can make together is incredibly important.



GREG HUNT:

Okay. Other matters?



JOURNALIST:

Before we get to the election, can I just ask you about tap water – the lead poisoning? What’s the concern about it?



GREG HUNT:

The advice from the Chief Medical Officer is that not only is our water in Australia safe; it is some of the cleanest water in the world. The precautions which have been recommended are simply that they are precautions and, in many ways common sense, to ensure that there’s a short period to run-out tap water.



But, above all else, the advice from the Chief Medical Officer is clear and categorical: our water is safe and indeed some of the safest, cleanest drinking water in the world, but there are sensibly precautions that have been recommended which relate to the course of a lifetime, not a particular incident



JOURNALIST:

That guidance statement, though, it was released nearly six months ago but not publicised. Was there a reason behind that?



GREG HUNT:

No, it was made publically available.



JOURNALIST:

Just not advertised to people that may need to know at home, though.



GREG HUNT:

Ah no. It was released for public guidance and I was surprised at the time that it wasn’t given more publicity and disappointed at the time that it wasn’t given more publicity. So, I think I’m actually pleased that now, somewhat delayed, it’s been given the prominence that I thought it should have otherwise received.



JOURNALIST:

If that’s the case, why didn’t you just say it- if you didn’t think it had the public announcement that it should have, why didn’t you just call a presser and say: hey, look, our water is a bit of a concern. Let’s talk about it?



GREG HUNT:

Well I think we’ve released the material and it’s publically available and it’s come from all of the states and territories. But the very important message is, from the Chief Medical Officer - not only is our water safe, it’s some of the safest drinking water in the world. These are precautionary guidelines that people can take into account.



JOURNALIST:

On to the election: the huge swing against the Liberals – does that make you concerned about your own seat come the next federal election?



GREG HUNT:

Firstly, congratulations to State Labor and Premier Daniel Andrews. We respect deeply the decision of the Victorian People. Secondly, this is a very sad and it’s a difficult day for the Liberal Party and the Liberal family here in Victoria and for the people who support the Liberal Party. I think it’s absolute important that we listen to the electorate and understand the messages and the vision they’re seeking from the party.



I know that now it’s five out of six elections where the Liberal Party has not been successful in Victoria, but four out of six elections at federal level where the Liberal Party has been. So we need to look at what has been successful federally and why there’s a gap here in Victoria. For me, now we should reflect carefully.



We should look at what all of the lessons are, the importance of vision, but I think we need to look at that carefully and to do that in a considered manner. And I particularly want to acknowledge the work that Matthew Guy and his team have done in leading a campaign and raising issues. But there are always lessons, and now we have to listen to and look at those lessons.



JOURNALIST:

Do you think the results is a rejection of the tone of the campaign that the Liberals ran?



GREG HUNT:

I’ll respectfully leave the state division and the State Parliamentary Party to review the particular reasons, but it is very important that when we look at the fact that we have been fortunate to have been given office on four of the last six occasions federally, but sadly, we’ve been unsuccessful on five of the last six occasions at the state level.



That means that we have to look at how we are presenting out vision to the Victorian people to build that common bond with the Victorian people. I think that’s the central task and I know that, at a national level, we’re always looking to reinforce that common bond with the Australian people. But obviously, we have to pay particular heed to that here in Victoria.



JOURNALIST:

How much responsibly do you take for your part in the ousting of Malcolm Turnbull? Obviously, he said that you’re an insurgent in part of his coup which led to partially the loss there in Wentworth and what we’ve seen here in Victoria. What’s your role in this and what responsibility will you take?



GREG HUNT:

I think that Matthew Guy set out yesterday that he did not see any significant involvement of federal matters in this election, and overwhelmingly, the state campaign was fought on state issues.



JOURNALIST:

He did say, though, that the Party needed to be united. It hasn’t really been united at a federal level in the last year or so.



GREG HUNT:

Look, I think that what you see is, at the moment, a very common, clear set of purpose at the national level a very deep belief in Scott Morrison, and I respect Matthew’s words yesterday and I think that that actually reflects the way that the campaign was conducted in Victoria, focusing on a Victorian campaign on Victorian issues.



JOURNALIST:

But you can’t deny the fact that the Liberal-federal contest that we saw and the conversation that’s been going on within the Party obviously had some effect here in Victoria.



GREG HUNT:

Look, I can only go off Matthew’s words yesterday. No person was closer to the campaign and more alert to all of the issues and I think his judgement is an important one which I would want to respect.



JOURNALIST:

You do represent a Victorian seat though, you must have seen the negative ads the Labor Party was running about Scott Morrison. Most of their ads were about the PM.



GREG HUNT:

Oh actually, they would campaign on many, many issues. And I think that what is important here is that obviously we have to ensure that there’s an alignment of vision between the party, which has done extraordinary things for Victoria over the years and the Victorian people.



And it’s our task now to ensure that as we go forward that alignment occurs. I know nationally, we see that Scott Morrison has a very, very significant preferred Prime Minister lead over Bill Shorten, and that he is building that relationship with the Australian people nationally.



JOURNALIST:

What does Labor’s victory here actually refer to at the federal election? Does it have any consequences there for the Liberals?



GREG HUNT:

We’ll review that. The honest answer is: every election in every state and every territory or at Commonwealth level is something that you always want to see successful for your party. And the reason is not just because it’s your party, but it’s because of a deep belief that if you can manage the economy and you can take care of peoples’ security then they can be their best selves.



And that’s what we’re seeking to do nationally, and my hope and belief is that we’ll continue to build that position through sensible things such as, today, where we’re able to provide, through a strong economy, benefits directly for pregnant mums and nursing mums. There couldn’t be a clearer example of a strong economy allows us to provide benefits for pregnant mums and nursing mums to protect lives and save lives.



JOURNALIST:

Should Michael Kroger resign?



GREG HUNT:

I will leave all of these matters for the Party. But I think everybody should have a cool, calm head. There is deep disappointment at this point in time but I think the state division and the state party should work collaboratively. I don’t think this is the time for people in any position within the Liberal Party to be casting aspersions. I think the very message is that we all need to work together collaboratively.



JOURNALIST:

(Inaudible) results suggest that the PM needs more time before the federal election to gain back support?



GREG HUNT:

Well, the Prime Minister has always said that we were looking to be at a full term Government and that hasn’t changed. Our position has been the same from the very moment that we came into office.



Alright, thank you.



(ENDS)


Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Hastings, Victoria.