Interview on Weekend Today with Deb Knight

Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's inteview on Weekend Today with Deb Knight.

Page last updated: 20 February 2017

PDF printable version of Interview on Weekend Today with Deb Knight (PDF 201 KB)

18 February 2017

E&OE…

Topics: No jab no pay, George Christensen

DEB KNIGHT:
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt joins us from the Mount Martha lifesaving club. Good morning Minister. This policy was introduced last year to try to lift the vaccination rates are you surprised by the figures?

GREG HUNT:
What we've seen so far is a very significant lift in vaccination rates almost 200,000 children have been vaccinated over the first year of the program. That's good news.

But there is more to do. We're going to keep pushing very hard but almost 200,000 new children vaccination rates are increasing both within families that are covered by government benefits and across the board more generally.

So that's an important step but very clearly you need to have your kids covered for measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough. These are critical. If your kids are covered other kids are covered.

DEB KNIGHT:
For the thousands of parents without benefits, what is your message? How can they get back on track?

GREG HUNT:
Vaccinations are free so we're providing vaccinations as catch ups for those that haven't done it, we’re being flexible here.

It's clear that it is a tough policy because this is about public health and the safety of our beautiful kids and if you are covered other kids are covered as well. That's the real message.

We want to have higher and higher rates, the vaccination rates are going up, the policy is working, almost 200,000 kids in addition have been covered in just one year but it is a tough measure because it's a critical measure.

DEB KNIGHT:
Where are the worst offenders? Which parts of the country are hot spots for not getting their children immunised?

GREG HUNT:
Interestingly Adelaide City and the Gold Coast hinterland have the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

We will be working with the respective state governments to try to find out why those regions are lower and to work through the schools and kindergartens and the GPs. The GPs are the front line and they do a fabulous job.

DEB KNIGHT:
Let's hope we get those figures increasing every year as a result of the policy. In other news Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce is meeting with George Christensen this weekend to discuss his concerns over the sugar industry.

How far is the government prepared to go to keep disgruntled politicians onside?

GREG HUNT:
Look, we will work with every MP and every MP on our side was elected as either a member of the Liberal or National parties or in Queensland what's known as the LNP.

I'm confident that all of the individuals will be part of the team going forward. I know George very well. He's a passionate supporter of the sugar industry.

Since we had the agreements for free trade with Japan and Korea and China, for example, we've seen massive increases in our imports of sugar to Korea. That means more jobs for drivers and millers, better pay for farmers and that's an example of how we can actually support the sugar industry and support, you know, real local jobs up and down the Queensland coast.

DEB KNIGHT:
You are over a barrel here, aren't you because any MP or senator can make demands of the government with the threat of quitting. You have such a slim majority. They can really make demands you have to meet.

GREG HUNT:
Look, I have worked with George over many years on different topics in the environment and in industry and now in health.

I have always found that in my discussions he's been very constructive and creative. That's how I expect him to be constructive and creative on the basis of my interaction with him. I found him good to work with.

DEB KNIGHT:
Let's see if he keeps that resignation letter he's reportedly written in his top pocket not on the desk himself. Minister Hunt thanks for joining us this morning.

GREG HUNT:
Thanks very much. To all the parents if your kids haven't been vaccinated we will do it for free. Go and see your GP.

DEB KNIGHT:
Absolutely an important message to get through. Thanks again.

(ENDS)

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