Interview with 3AW Sunday Morning

Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's interview with 3AW Sunday Morning regarding Australian Government’s new $5.5 million immunisation awareness campaign and same sex marriage.

Page last updated: 14 August 2017

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13 August 2017

E&OE…

Topics: Australian Government’s new $5.5 million immunisation awareness campaign, same sex marriage

PRESENTER:
Greg Hunt, the Federal Health Minister, has launched a new campaign this morning encouraging Australians to get their kids immunised. It's called ‘Get the Facts about Immunisation’, and the Minister joins us now.

Minister, we don't need a campaign. The facts are, just get your kids immunised, and if you don't, you're mad. Good morning to you.

GREG HUNT:
And good morning to you. We absolutely need to keep pushing. We're up at about 93.5 per cent of children who are immunised, but we need to lift it higher and there are pockets where this anti-vax movement does have some impact and our job is very clear – to counter those myths, to make it clear that immunisation saves lives, and to encourage people to vaccinate.

PRESENTER:
Where are those pockets, Minister? Because...

PRESENTER:
Let's track them down.

PRESENTER:
As I understand it, some of them are in very affluent, well-educated areas.

GREG HUNT:
Yes, absolutely. So, what we find is that sometimes in the real inner city areas, the numbers are lower. The lowest areas in the country for immunisation are in the Gold Coast Hinterland, and the Adelaide inner city area.

But in Victoria, some of the lowest areas include the immediate Melbourne inner city area.

Frankly, around the country these movements risk lives, and immunisation absolutely saves.

The stories we've got, little Dana McCaffery, who was one month old; Riley Hughes, who was one month old. So they're pre-vaccination babies, and their parents were doing everything they could to protect their kids, but they were in lower immunisation areas, they caught whooping cough, and, literally, both sets of parents tell the story of how they lost their little ones to a disease which just gradually chokes these tiny babies.

So those that run the campaign that immunisation is not safe are, frankly, wrong and irresponsible. And it's for the parents who are doubting, we're giving them the safety information.

PRESENTER:
Are you convinced through, in those areas where there are low vaccination rates, that it's because of the anti-vaccination movement? Are you convinced that's the case?

GREG HUNT:
No, there's quite strong evidence. So we have research as to why is there a lower level in those areas. As you say, it's not access to vaccination, it's sometimes an almost an inverse relationship between wealth and vaccinations.

Some of the wealthiest communities have some of the lower levels of vaccinations, so it's clearly a social and cultural issue there. And in that situation, you have some who have very strong ideologies, but then that can create doubt amongst others.

So we're targeting both groups, but in particular those parents who are doubting. And the message from all of the research we’ve done is they just want the facts, and this is sending both a social message but hard scientific message as well as a very clear, emotional campaign from those parents such as the McCafferys, the Hughes, who have lost their gorgeous little children to horrible, preventable diseases because others haven't immunised their own children.

PRESENTER:
Greg, Bernie Finn here.

GREG HUNT:
Hey, Bernie.

PRESENTER:
How are we going? Mate, I just want to congratulate you on this, because as you know I'm Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Autism, and one of the great arguments put forward by people is that immunisation causes autism.

And this is one that really needs to be knocked on the head. And I really hope that you go in hard on this, because there is, as you know, absolutely no evidence at all to even suggest that immunisation causes autism. So I say more power to you, and go in hard.

GREG HUNT:
Yeah. We had the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, with us this morning at the Royal Children's Hospital. He’s a mild-mannered fellow, a brilliant medical leader; he's run hospitals, great researcher.

And he's normally, as I say, very calm and cool. And he was asked about this link with autism today, and he ripped it is apart in a way I've never him do that with anything else before.

PRESENTER:
Good.

GREG HUNT:
He just said it's tosh, it's been debunked, and it was a paper with no scientific substance which was withdrawn.

And it's very clear – autism is completely unrelated to immunisation. There is absolutely no medical basis. And immunisation just protects these kids.

We've seen a 99 per cent decrease in preventable deaths in the immunisation areas since the 1933 introduction of immunisation in Australia. But there are still kids that are exposed, where there are gaps.

PRESENTER:
And, Greg, this film that's been released isn't helping the cause, is it?

GREG HUNT:
No. It's tripe. And I'm astonished that Crown let it happen. I suspect and hope that they didn't quite know what they were doing.

But we take a really strong view on this because this is a public health strategy. We now have some of the highest rates in the world, and we have the highest rate of immunisation in Australian history.

But we should, frankly, be pushing towards 100 per cent with an interim target of 95. And, interestingly, some of the best results in the country are in Indigenous areas, so that's a great outcome. But the more we get immunised the better, and the less we get immunised, the greater risk.

PRESENTER:
On that note, keep up the good work and congratulations on the campaign launch today, and thank you for your time Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt. What’s on this afternoon?

GREG HUNT:
For me, I'm a dad for the next few hours, so just coming back from the Children's Hospital to home on the Peninsula, before heading up to Canberra this evening.

PRESENTER:
Good on you, and what, a game of Monopoly, or kick-to-kick out the back? What does that entertainment with the family take form of?

GREG HUNT:
Well I've got a little eight year old guy who is absolutely footy and soccer mad, so I think we'll have a bit of both, kick-to-kick, and he's happy because he's a West Coast Eagles fan. Don’t ask, that's some bad parenting on my behalf...

PRESENTER:
What have you there?

PRESENTER:
That is a shocking case of parenting poorly.

GREG HUNT:
You only blame the parents in that case.

PRESENTER:
What would never happen under a Finn Government.

PRESENTER:
And Minister, can I ask you one quick...

GREG HUNT:
My daughter, who's a 12 year old, and she just wants to go for a walk down on the beach.

PRESENTER:
Oh, you'll be kept busy then.

PRESENTER:
And Minister, one quick question without notice – will you vote yes in the postal plebiscite on marriage equality?

GREG HUNT:
Yes, absolutely. I love the idea of the plebiscite, I support it deeply. I happen to be a yes voter, but everyone's entitled to their vote, and my sort of message to Australians is, enrol, and have your say in what is a national free vote.

PRESENTER:
We'll let you get back to your kids. Have a great afternoon on the beach and a bit of kick-to-kick. That is the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt.

(ENDS)

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