Interview with Steve Austin on ABC Brisbane

Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's interview with Steve Austin on ABC Brisbane speaking about medical research; terrorism; environment policy and obesity.

Page last updated: 09 June 2017

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9 June 2017

E&OE…

Topics: Labor’s hospital funding lie; medical research; terrorism; environment policy; obesity

STEVE AUSTIN:
Well my guest is Federal Health Minster Greg Hunt. He’s in Brisbane today to announce research funding or funding for medical research in Brisbane, we’ve asked him in the studio. Minister, thanks for coming in.

GREG HUNT:
Good morning Steve.

STEVE AUSTIN:
You were once named the global leader for tomorrow by the World Economic Forum. Did you ever expect to see a time when the Australian Government would consider biometric passports linked to drivers’ licenses linked to a Government database as we are today, according to the papers?

GREG HUNT:
Look I think we have to keep moving forwards in terms of security whilst also ensuring that we have absolute safeguards for privacy and protection.

But what we’ve seen in recent weeks of course, whether it’s in Manchester or London or in Brighton in my home state of Victoria and with tragic, tragic effects here in Queensland, is cold-blooded killers who are moving through the system and who will take any chance to take life without any concern at all.

And so as a country, our first task is to make sure that we’re giving our authorities the best chance at stopping these absolutely ruthless, cold-blooded killers from repeating the sort of tragic and catastrophic outcomes that we’ve seen in recent weeks.

STEVE AUSTIN:
Is there anything you can tell me about the Federal Government’s plans for biometric linked passports to drivers’ licenses to Government databases?

GREG HUNT:
Look I won’t preempt the work that the Prime Minister is doing today with the state premiers, but anything that we do do is about a completely cooperative approach with the states.

And to be fair, I think that every premier in every state wants to make sure that the sort of thing which has occurred in the UK and France and we’ve seen with tragic outcomes right around the world, doesn’t occur here.

We have had individual killings, we have had many plans thwarted because of the work of our security agencies.

And the two most important things we can do are, have good insights into what these cold-blooded killers are planning to do and to stop them before they wreak havoc at an event or on our streets, and secondly to work with the Islamic community if we’re looking at Islamic extremism and radical Islam terror, to make sure that there’s a positive message about inclusion for the broad general community and that they themselves are the ones leading the push to reject what these killers want to do.

STEVE AUSTIN:
It’s not your portfolio, but was it discussed that at Cabinet level, this idea?

GREG HUNT:
Respectively and respectfully, I’m not going to talk about cabinet. But I will say this, that the Prime Minister today is talking about national security, parole response times as his number one concern in the meeting with all of the Premiers, as should be the case. And to be fair to them, I think it’s equally their number one concern.

STEVE AUSTIN:
Will it mean that a person’s religious belief will be held on Government database in Australia, if they’re worried about profiling or identifying ahead of an incident. Will it mean that a person’s religious belief is listed in a government database here?

GREG HUNT:
Well I think at the moment, people put down on their Census form on a voluntary basis.

STEVE AUSTIN:
Supposed to be anonymous, and stripped of identification.

GREG HUNT:
But individuals put that down. Now, I’m not aware that there are any plans for that, and I’ll leave it to the Prime Minister.

But as I say, our focus here is simply to catch the cold-blooded killers. I use that term rather than criminals because what we have here is not an ordinary type of criminal intent, but a murderous intent where the sole goal is to take life.

And we’ve seen here in Queensland and South Australia and Victoria the losses from those three states are real, and it’s our beautiful young people that have been paying the price of these vicious, vicious animals, frankly.

STEVE AUSTIN:
So by here in Queensland, you mean the young lady from Queensland that was killed in the UK in the last …

GREG HUNT:
Correct, correct. The most tragic of losses.

STEVE AUSTIN:
My guest is Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. This is ABC Radio Brisbane. I want to ask you one more question that’s not in your portfolio, so just forgive me for this.

But you were the Minister for the Environment and you established the Australia’s Emissions Reduction fund when you had that position.

What would you like to Alan Finkel deliver in his report later today? I know you’re- well you were always reported to have been quite keen on some sort of pricing of carbon in the past.

GREG HUNT:
Well no, no. That’s not correct, what we put in was …

STEVE AUSTIN:
Privately.

GREG HUNT:
Well I’ll tell you the truth publicly. My view is this. We can and should have a lower emissions trajectory.

We have taken out a billion tonnes of emissions under the Coalition, compared with what Labor said it would be over the course to 2020.

We are beating our targets, and we did it by abolishing a carbon tax which both drove up electricity prices and was ineffective on emissions.

We put in place a world-leading system, the Emissions Reduction Fund, which has reduced of its own 189 million tonnes, at about $11.80.

So, dramatically higher volumes, dramatically lower prices than the critics ever allowed or predicted, in other words, it’s doing its job, and it’s doing its job effectively and quietly without impacting electricity prices. Now what we want to do is take further pressure off electricity prices.

I know Mr Shorten wants to tax electricity, we don’t. What we want to do is encourage cleaner electricity, but lower prices and stability in the grid.

Queensland fortunately hasn’t had the tragic or I’ll use a different term, the deeply troubling challenges that South Australia has had.

And those challenges are about grid instability, and that means business is saying we just can’t stay here. So we don’t want to that happen here in Queensland.

STEVE AUSTIN:
No, Queensland is making money out of selling electricity to the southern states. You know, at the peak periods last year we actually made money out of that.

GREG HUNT:
And gas. The southern states are sucking up your gas, and that’s good for Queensland because you’re developing gas reserves but there’s this boycott of gas reserves in Victoria and a semi-boycott in New South Wales. Great for Queensland, bad for gas prices in other states.

STEVE AUSTIN:
You also developed the Great Barrier Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan and a $1 billion reef fund.

GREG HUNT:
Correct.

STEVE AUSTIN:
Are you then concerned at the latest report card on the health of the Great Barrier Reef which looks really, really in trouble?

GREG HUNT:
Well the World Heritage Committee has just put forward a view that Australia is on track to meet its targets.

They’ve just said the five year timeframe that they set two years ago when they took Australia off the World Heritage watch list for the Barrier Reef.

It went on under Labor, it came off under us. The World Heritage Committee has just said we’re still leading the world in our actions.

I always, I always worry about making sure that we’re doing more to improve the health of the reef, which is why we’re doing run-off reduction.

We’re doing work in terms of the billion dollar fund that the Prime Minister and I announced before the election and that’s money that will go directly to supporting the reef, the farmers and the communities along the North Queensland coast.

STEVE AUSTIN:
It’s 18 minutes to nine. I’d better ask you something in your portfolio.

GREG HUNT:
That’s alright. No, we’re generalists as well as specialists.

STEVE AUSTIN:
My guest is Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

GREG HUNT:
To use a medical term.

STEVE AUSTIN:
He’s in town to announce some money for medical research, but it’s popped up on the web is a website called protectqldhospitals.com.au.

And according to today’s papers, this is linked to a campaign by State Labor to point the finger at you, saying you have cut $10 billion from Queensland’s health system.

That’s a lot of money to cut, can I get you to address that please? Is that accurate? How much money have you cut from the Federal Budget from the Queensland’s health budget?

GREG HUNT:
Zero. In fact, they’ve been caught out. They hadn’t publicised this website. They were planning a bogus scare campaign.

STEVE AUSTIN:
I went online, the paper is correct, I went online, there it is …

GREG HUNT:
Yep. And they were caught out. They’ were going around a big scare campaign. The truth is it’s not just deceptive, it’s an outrageous lie and you’ve got to have debates in Parliament but you cannot lie.

Cannot tell a straight lie and both Bill Shorten and I’m sorry to say the Palaszczuk Government have been courting this.

So, what are the facts? Under us we’re going from 2.6 billion of funding to Queensland in Labor’s last year.

Now, we’re going from over this budget $3.8 to $4.1 to $4.3 to $4.6 to $4.8 billion. So going up each year the budget papers by law have to show if there are any reductions. There are no reductions. Every year; $3.8, $4.1, $4.3, $4.6, $4.8 billion.

The money goes up as it should. Queensland is one of the most significant recipients of additional new Commonwealth funding for hospitals.

At the same time however, what we’re seeing is a story in today’s paper about waiting lists in Queensland going up because they are prioritising private patients in public hospitals over pensioners and low income earners which I think most Queenslanders would say doesn’t seem to be the right thing for a government to be doing.

STEVE AUSTIN:
But it is a strategy to get the waiting list down which surely the Government or the Health Minister has a responsibility to do.

GREG HUNT:
No it’s actually the opposite. What’s happened is that they are bringing in private patients and prioritising them in public hospitals over public patients. So you’ve seen recent national reports …

STEVE AUSTIN:
What’s the benefit? Why do that, what’s the benefit for that?

GREG HUNT:
Well what they’re trying to do is to get the private health insurance to pay for services that would be normally covered by the Queensland Government, but in doing that they’re giving the private patients who are generally the better off, although there are many pensioners who scrimp and save to have private health insurance, but they’re giving them priority over public patients and what does that mean?

Across the country where this is happening the waiting lists for public patients are twice as long in public hospitals, not private hospitals, in public hospitals compared with what a private patient would be paying and that’s what is unfair, unreasonable and was never the purpose of this system.

STEVE AUSTIN:
Alright, we’ve put in a call to the Health Minister and I will be speaking with Cameron Dick very shortly, but I just want to make sure. So over the forward estimates which is normally the agreed on benchmark, over a four year projection Queensland’s public health funding is going up every year.

GREG HUNT:
Each year every year, $3.8, $4.1, $4.3, $4.6, $4.8 …

STEVE AUSTIN:
3.8, 4.1- so 3.8, 4.1 …

GREG HUNT:
4.3, 4.6 and 4.8 billion.

STEVE AUSTIN:
My guest is Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. This is ABC Radio Brisbane.

One of the things apparently that is crippling the health system or burdening the health system is obesity …

GREG HUNT:
This is correct. This is absolutely correct.

STEVE AUSTIN:
Last year the Medical Journal of Australia in editorial used the world tsunami to describe type 2 diabetes.

But at this stage it looks like that no health program, no education program and nothing is working to stop Australians eating themselves to ill health. What are you doing about that?

GREG HUNT:
Look, you’re absolutely right it is a critical issue. There are over a million Australians with type 2 diabetes.

You can boil it down to two big things that have to be done. One, is exercise, the second is reducing the amount and changing the type of the food that we eat. It’s as simple as that in terms of the explanation.

Now, one of the things that we’re doing. We have picked this up in the recent budget. We’ve launched a Prime Minister’s Walk for Life Challenge which is aimed at getting 300,000 people who are not regular walkers, designed with the Heart Foundation, to get these 300,000 people out and walking.

It’s amazing what 30 minutes, 45 minutes of exercise a day for those who might not regularly exercise can do.

We’ve put in place the Sporting Schools program which is a $60 million program really focused on kids from backgrounds where they might not otherwise be involved in organised sport. They might not be able to afford it.

It might not be part of their culture. It might not be something that they themselves have done, and we’re focusing on education in schools about eating, but also working with the food companies and others on the long term composition of foods.

The most successful program that came out of the UK was a voluntary program for over the course of a long period of time, progressive minor reductions in sugar, fat and salt in food content.

An entirely voluntary program from the food companies, but they have indicated they are coming on board to do this and what that does is it changes the profile, at the same time nobody can stop somebody putting food into their mouth - and nor should we, but we have to educate, encourage and provide positive examples to our kids and to our parents in terms of gradual reduction in making sure people eat the right portions, not massive amounts.

STEVE AUSTIN:
I have to go. I’ve squeezed us for time. Thanks for coming in.

GREG HUNT:
It’s a pleasure.

STEVE AUSTIN:
Greg Hunt is the Federal Health Minister. In just a moment I’ll be getting a response from Queensland’s Health Minister, Cameron Dick.

(ENDS)

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