Interview on Weekend Today with Allison Langdon
Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's interview on Weekend Today with Allison Langdon regarding new vaccines, Medicare scans and medicines available from 1 July.
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health
From today, several cancer treatments and extra immunisations will be either free or a lot cheaper. Thousands of Australians are set to benefit from new Federal Government funding.
And with the details Health Minister Greg Hunt joins us live from Melbourne. A very good morning to you, Minister.
Good morning, Ally.
Can I ask what new drugs and initiatives will be funded from today?
So from today we have a new drug for breast cancer, Kisqali. This would ordinarily cost $70,000 a year, so beyond the reach of virtually every woman.
This will now be available for $39.50 or $6.40, around, through the PBS. It will save lives, protect lives, improve lives, extend lives. So it’s just profoundly important for over 3,000 women.
New MRI tests for prostate cancers for men. Again, something that will help thousands of men get early and better diagnosis.
And then two new vaccines, one for mums who are pregnant. Every mum in Australia who’s pregnant will have access to the whooping cough vaccine, which will protect their newborn once the newborn comes into the world.
And also new vaccinations for 12 months old for meningococcal. All of these things will make a profound difference to new bubs and to toddlers.
Well, that is great news for many today. Not so good news is that penalty rates are being cut by up to 15 per cent for some of our lowest-paid workers, on the very same day that you and your colleagues are getting a 2 per cent pay rise. How do you justify that?
Well, both of these come through the independent umpire. I have to say my focus is on ensuring that we have more jobs and better wage outcomes for the workers.
This was actually a commission set up by Labor, a process set up by Mr Shorten himself, who actually ensured that this process went ahead, and at the time he said he would accept the decision.
And it was the commissioners who were appointed by the Labor Party. So they put this in place. By contrast, what we’ve done is tried to create a million jobs, lower the cost of doing business, that leads to higher wages.
That’s our focus, to continue to create jobs. The next million jobs is our next target and if we can do that we can deliver more jobs and better wages.
So the independent umpire, this was Mr Shorten’s process, his own reference. And us, it’s all about bringing the cost of doing business down – we know he wants to increase it – and therefore giving workers more chance at a job and more chance of better wages.
Well, Mr Shorten is saying that he will reverse his decision if he wins the next election. Do you accept that this is a bad look?
Look, this is a decision of the very umpire that Labor set up…
I understand this is an independent - you’ve answered that, sorry Minister, I understand that. But do you accept that this is a very bad look that while our lowest-paid workers are receiving a cut to what they earn, you today are receiving a pay rise.
It’s very much a decision of the independent umpire in each case and I…
I’m asking your personal opinion. Does this look bad?
I think it’s all about giving people a better chance at a job and in particular a better chance of higher wages by reducing costs.
But you’re not answering my question. Because these people are actually going to be worse off.
Well I think the critical thing here is, if there is work that’s now being done on a Sunday that wasn’t, people will have more chance at more hours.
And this is one of the things that you find all of the time if you’re talking to people who run café’s, who run small businesses.
They’ll say: I may not open on a Sunday, but I might now. And if they open on a Sunday and they give people a chance at rates that would otherwise not have been available to them because there was simply no work, then I respectfully don’t accept your proposition because this can mean more hours and therefore more people being employed and therefore better outcomes for people who would otherwise never have had that opportunity.
And at the end of the day you’ve got Mr Shorten who set up the process and now denies it. What we’re trying to do is to ensure that with lower taxes on businesses, with more opportunity to employ people, you get more people earning more money.
Okay, Minister, thank you so much for your time this morning.