Date published: 
28 February 2019
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

ALI CLARKE:

It’s good morning federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

GREG HUNT:

Good morning.

DAVID BEVAN:

You come bearing gifts, Minister.

GREG HUNT:

I do indeed. I’ve got a real privilege, I’ll be visiting Mount Barker later this morning and I’ll be there with Georgina Downer and we’ll be announcing $8.6 million to build a new emergency department – accidents and emergency at Mount Barker Hospital and we’ve had a tripling of presentations to the Mount Barker ED, I think up from about 4900 in 2015 to over 14,500 this year.

And so it’s needed and what it will do is help with things such as an ambulance entry, triage, treatment, procedure rooms, it’s the number one thing that Georgina Downer and the community have been talking to me about now ever since George got the preselection for the by-election close to a year ago.

DAVID BEVAN:

Minister, I think you’ve mentioned Georgina Downer's name three times in the last minute.

Is- and she was featured in the Southern Victor Harbor Times - the Victor Harbor Times a week ago saying: oh I think we need about $8.41 million for this hospital at Mount Barker. Look, is this about helping the people of Mount Barker or is it about helping Georgina Downer?

GREG HUNT:

No, no these things are actually very much focused and we make some very significant decisions on the outcome for the population and right around the country what we're doing is identifying the needs; we've been working with what are called the Primary Health Networks and with the state governments on what they identify as very, very significant issues or gaps in the system.

And whether it's in terms of things such as cancer treatment, whether it's in terms of mental health, preventive health, drug and alcohol treatment - in Mount Gambier this morning we're announcing $3 million to deal with the ice and alcohol issues that the local community has identified and they're facing.

We're simply focusing on what will deliver the best outcome for the population.

ALI CLARKE:

Minister Hunt, you said then that it's not - or (inaudible) might say that it’s the seat of Mayo and we're here to help Georgina Downer out, but you said you worked closely with medical outfits around this state, then where else needs money?

GREG HUNT:

So in particular we saw yesterday the creation of a state-wide brain and spinal unit.

That's something which the South Australian Government had identified as a priority.

I know Nicolle Flint had identified as a very, very strong priority for part of the reconstruction and redevelopment of the Repat Hospital.

But what we were focused on was that there had to be a genuine need and a unique problem which we could help address and the brain and spinal unit was one of those examples.

DAVID BEVAN:

Sorry, was that a genuine need for Nicolle Flint and the seat of Boothby and Georgina Downer in Mayo - genuine real needs there or genuine real needs in the health sector?

GREG HUNT:

No, I think you'd find having met the patients who are working on their own rehabilitation, people from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute which is not in a seat that the Government has any connection with in terms of having an incumbent member, the MRI for Queen Elizabeth Hospital - again not in a seat that has any connection in terms of a government representative.

We work across all of the different areas. So you think of those things, what we're doing is investing right across the country because we actually have an economy that's working and a budget that's coming back to surplus.

DAVID BEVAN:

Minister, the big issue for South Australians and health is ramping.

Now if you had any meeting with Stephen Wade, if you opened up any paper, if you watch any news service in the state you would know that ramping of ambulances at our major hospitals – the RAH and Flinders - they are- that’s the big issue. Has he talked to you about this - Stephen Wade?

GREG HUNT:

Yes, absolutely.

DAVID BEVAN:

Are you going to give him any money to fix it?

GREG HUNT:

One and a half billion dollars. We’ve signed an agreement …

ALI CLARKE:

Sorry, can I just clarify was that 1.5 million or billion?

GREG HUNT:

One and a half billion dollars.

We signed an agreement last year with South Australia.

The previous government refused to sign an agreement because they didn't want to be seen to be having an agreement with the Australian Government, with Canberra, with a liberal government, and so they short changed South Australia by $1.5 billion.

One of the things that Steven Marshall set out to do in his first weeks was to negotiate and conclude that agreement.

He negotiated hard. I would never want to get into a fight with him, he's pretty impressive, and- but what he secured and what Stephen Wade secured was an extra $1.5 billion for South Australia and (inaudible) that money.

DAVID BEVAN:

So Stephen Wade- are you saying Stephen Wade’s got all the money he needs to fix the ramping problem?

GREG HUNT:

Look I'll let them talk about their own hospitals but what they have secured is an additional $1.5 billion from the Australian Government for South Australia.

DAVID BEVAN:

Over what time?

GREG HUNT:

That's over a five-year period. And that's a very, very significant increase.

DAVID BEVAN:

So it’s an extra $300 million for- state wide and he can spend it how he likes it? Per year.

GREG HUNT:

Yeah that’s right, that's correct.

It comes under the national hospitals agreement or what's known technically as the National Health Reform Agreement but that's funding that comes to South Australia and by signing up and participating in the agreement, South Australia has that extra funding and that will make a real difference.

Now they inherited the most difficult situation. I watched on and we did everything we could to get the previous government to release the report into the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

They buried it. I think Stephen Wade's first decision after being sworn in was to release the report into the Royal Adelaide Hospital which had failed its accreditation at national level.

Fortunately, there is a period of grace and they had a period where they set out to deal with the priority issues.

They did. It's an independent body that assesses it. It then determined that if the hospital was compliant which was everybody's fear, but it's not out of the woods yet. There’s more work to be done, no question.

ALI CLARKE:

Okay. Well federal Health Minister Greg Hunt before we let you go, are you going to be presenting this money in a giant novelty check form?

GREG HUNT:

No. We're there to help the people locally and I wouldn't make too much of something that Georgina herself paid for.

Basically you've got somebody who's energetic and enthusiastic. They're having a go, they're out there fighting and I get the impression people might be beginning to be a little bit worried that all that energy and enthusiasm is beginning to pay dividends and so some folks start to play a bit dirty.

Our job is to get on and focus on a new accident and emergency for Mount Barker.

ALI CLARKE:

Okay, federal Minister Greg Hunt, thank you for your time.

GREG HUNT:

Thanks so much.

DAVID BEVAN:

Okay. So that's Greg Hunt the federal Minister for Health handing out money here in in South Australia.