Date published: 
12 December 2018
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

ALI MOORE:

Today, there's a meeting in Adelaide of state and territory leaders and quite a few things are on the agenda, including health with an offer of extra funding. Greg Hunt is the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, good morning.

GREG HUNT:

Good morning Ali.

ALI MOORE:

You put $1.25 billion on the table for the states and territories; what's it for?

GREG HUNT:

So this is for our Community Health and Hospitals program and that's funding that's additional to anything that's come before for things such as drug and alcohol rehabilitation, mental health, hospital research, work in particular in rural areas with cancer rates and rural cancer treatment.

So very, very practical things that will make a real difference in terms of saving lives and protecting lives.

And in addition to that today, we're also announcing $526 million (inaudible) research program, so actual grants - over 680 grants for things such as dementia research at Monash University, we’ve seen cardiac research, mental health research, real programs that will actually save lives and protect lives. So it's a very big day in health.

ALI MOORE:

So those two lots of funding, over what period are they?

GREG HUNT:

The National Health and Medical Research Council, that’s this year's round of announcements so that’s starting this year and the grants will be between one and five years depending on the particular project. And then the one and a quarter billion dollar Community Health and Hospitals program, that's over a four year period.

ALI MOORE:

And the states and territories have to bid for a share of that funds or have you already allocated it?

GREG HUNT:

No. What will happen is they'll put forward projects and we’ll work on them- work with them and work on assessing the projects. But we'll also be inviting the medical and community health sector to put forward projects as well.

So for example, if you think of an area where there might be a shortage of drug and alcohol rehabilitation and treatment, it might be within somewhere such as Ballarat or Bendigo or Geelong, traditionally areas (inaudible) states; there's been a shortage of such funding in Victoria, so we're stepping in where Victoria hasn't been doing those sorts of things and offering an opportunity to do that mental health because so immensely important and to provide those additional community based mental health support facilities and rehabilitation I think is just very, very important.

ALI MOORE:

I think Victoria's Government would take issue with you that there are things that they're not funding and indeed, they're unimpressed with what you’ve put on the table today and they actually say that you're ripping more than 2 billion out of Victorian hospitals and you're also cutting another 243 million by moving the goalposts.

I mean, anyone listening to this is probably finding the numbers a little bit difficult to get your head around. But are you taking with one hand and giving with the other?

GREG HUNT:

No, no I think there's a very simple answer to that. The Commonwealth funding to Victorian hospitals has increased by 55 per cent under us. At the same time.

ALI MOORE:

Over what period? Under you - you've had a few leaders, which particular period are you talking about?

GREG HUNT:

No, over the period that the Coalition has been in government federally, so a 55 per cent increase in over five years of state funding.

So Victorian funding under the Andrews Government to Victoria over the same period increased 34 per cent.

So we've almost doubled, not quite, but almost doubled funding that the state's own rate of growth in Victoria with Commonwealth funding. So in other words, Victorian funding to Victoria under the Andrews Government - 34 per cent increase, national funding - federal funding to Victoria, a 55 per cent increase. So a very, very significant difference in our rate of growth. We’ve encouraged them to match our rate of growth.

ALI MOORE:

Look at that in the context of population growth in Victoria; we have the most rapidly growing state.

GREG HUNT:

I understand that and you would imagine that the Commonwealth and the state funding would grow at the same rate on that basis. But I would ask why would Victoria be almost half of the Commonwealth rate of growth of Commonwealth funding for Victoria as opposed to Victorian funding for Victoria?

ALI MOORE:

Do you think you'll resolve the disagreements over hospital funding today at the COAG meeting.

I note that Daniel Andrews was on AM this morning and he made the point that your 1.25 for particular areas of expenditure is about the same as the Victorian Government is spending on one hospital in the state. What hope is there of coming to some sort of agreement?

GREG HUNT:

Well all up we're providing $130 billion over the course of the next five year agreement - there's an additional seven billion dollars there in that agreement on the table for Victoria alone and so I think we'd encourage Victoria to match our Commonwealth rate of growth.

But moving beyond that, right now if you're in Frankston, if you're on the Mornington Peninsula, if you’re in Geelong or Ballarat or Bendigo, there's a real opportunity for drug and alcohol funding, for mental health funding, for regional health and hospital service funding; practical things where the community can apply - local health services; so practical outcomes that will actually make a difference.

And if Victoria would like to match our additional funding that would be great. But either way, we’ll proceed and try to move beyond the sort of the day to day games to deliver outcomes such as residential rehabilitation for ice or opioid addiction.

ALI MOORE:

You’re listening to the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt at 14 minutes to nine on ABC Radio Melbourne.

Greg Hunt, we know how big an issue health was in the by-election, the Longman by-election in Queensland; do you think it could be a- well, not just a key issue, but a make or break issue for the next federal election in May?

GREG HUNT:

Well, I think what we’ve been seeing and it’s very important to do this is people are very focussed on real world health outcomes such as new medicines for spinal muscular atrophy, new medicines for cystic fibrosis such as Orkambi, new medicines for breast cancer such as Kisqali.

So things that are actually being delivered, sadly under the previous government they stopped listing new medicines, it was when Mr Shorten was the Assistant Treasurer, he was in charge for one budget and that was the one budget where they stopped listing new medicines because.

ALI MOORE:

So are you saying it’s a listing of medicines that is the key election issue? That was the question; do you think that it could be a make or break issue for you?

GREG HUNT:

I would say it is much more of an issue for Labor as to why they stopped listing new medicines given that they declared that it was due to fiscal circumstances.

So we’ve been able to put the budget into a very strong position. If you’ve got a strong economy and a strong budget then you can cover mental health, new medicines, medical research, hospital services such as today, the incredibly important work on eating disorders which was announced for the first time ever in Australia to have dedicated eating disorder services and that was announced by the Prime Minister and myself on Sunday.

ALI MOORE:

It was indeed Minister and we did cover it on this program.

GREG HUNT:

Important real world things.

ALI MOORE:

Let me briefly ask you, this COAG meeting that’s being held in Adelaide, obviously other issues are on the agenda – one important one is population. Do you think that you’ll be able to come up with a, I suppose, a bipartisan, across different levels of government agreement on appropriate levels of population growth?

GREG HUNT:

I think what we want to do is just ensure that there is sustainable population growth and with a particular focus on decentralisation. I’m actually on the Monash Freeway at the moment; I’m travelling to Monash University.

ALI MOORE:

Are you moving?

GREG HUNT:

But the cars that are coming in are barely moving on the other side. So I just happen to be going against the traffic, but I can see that there's that congestion. Obviously, we believe deeply in the importance of a cross city tunnel, the East-West tunnel and everybody who's on the inbound traffic on the Monash would be thinking - we'd like to get this moving and I'm sure it's the same on Tullamarine.

ALI MOORE:

Look, in all due respect, I understand that the infrastructure and how difficult and crowded it is, is directly linked to population. But I’m asking you - do you think that the COAG meeting will be able to come up with an agreement on appropriate levels of population growth? Everyone says it must be sustainable; but do you think someone will actually put a number on it?

GREG HUNT:

Well I know that the Prime Minister is working with the premiers and the chief ministers on that. I hope that they can.

I won't speak for a meeting that’s about to begin with other parties, but we’re approaching it on the basis of what does Australia need?

We need to ensure that we can get our brilliant medical researchers from Australia but also the best from around the world, that we can have people who bring different skills who come here, but at the same time, the bulk, the focus of population growth should be to manage it against the infrastructure.

And in Victoria, as I say, looking across at the Monash on the other side at the moment, you can literally see the congestion.

So you have to balance the infrastructure. I would hope that the block on a bypass for Melbourne's congestion is removed. But we'll continue to work with all of the states both on population and on infrastructure, as you say, are completely and utterly inextricably linked.

ALI MOORE:

And the other issue - the moving of the Australian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; will that be announced and do you support it?

GREG HUNT:

Look, I'll leave that issue to the Prime Minister. It's an ongoing process. I won't pre-empt any of the processes.

ALI MOORE:

But will there be an announcement? You're part of the senior leadership team; it's not just up to the Prime Minister.

GREG HUNT:

Look, it's a whole of government process and I respectfully on this occasion will let that process run its course.

ALI MOORE:

Can I take it from that that you're not keen on a change of policy?

GREG HUNT:

No, respectfully can't do that. What I'm saying is that this is one where the discussions are ongoing. I've been fortunate to be involved as part of the government, but it’s the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister that take the lead on that.

ALI MOORE:

All right Greg Hunt. Thank you very much. May you get to where you're going in good time.

GREG HUNT:

Thanks very much Ali.

 

Ministers: