Transcript of Interview with Leon Byner on FiveAA
Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's interview with Leon Byner on FiveAA speaking about local drug action teams in South Australia.
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health
Greg Hunt, tell us. Ms Vlahos suggests, look, wasn’t me, it’s the Primary Healthcare Networks. What do you say?
Look, with great respect it’s completely and utterly wrong.
Ice is just a terrible killer and a destroyer of individuals, of families, and communities. So we’ve got to make sure every state not only gets its fair share to get the best program, but…
So why did we miss out?
Well the simple fact is Victoria put in 26 applications, New South Wales 22, Queensland 15. South Australia only put in three, got two which was the highest success rate of any state in relation to the applications put in. It just put in the lowest rate of applications for any state.
The Minister says it’s not her, it’s the PHNs.
Tasmania with a third of the population put in more applications than South Australia. And the way it works that a good Government will work with the local communities, so for example the city of Mount Gambier, the Port Lincoln Aboriginal Health Service, they’re the recipients of ice action programs or what it’s called, Local Drug Action teams in South Australia.
They’ve done it, but in other states including Victoria and Queensland with Labor Governments, I’m not being partisan here. The states are helping either the local community or the PHNs, it’s not correct about the PHN. I think the Minister is confused.
So what is the case?
So anybody put in an application, there is a second round of funding which is put out through what are called Primary Health Networks which is being allocated to each state and territory on a population basis.
So South Australia is 7 per cent of the population, gets approximately that amount or $11.6 million for directly tackling ice through the Primary Health Networks.
What you and I are talking about, which the Minister clearly has no idea about, is something else.
And that’s the specific drug action teams where any community organisation with health credentials can apply.
In other states they’ve had tremendous support from the Victorian Labor Government, the New South Wales Liberal Government, the Tasmanian Liberal Government, the Queensland Labor Government for example.
They put in a lot more, none of them actually got the same success rates of the applications as South Australia, but we’re very keen to make sure South Australia didn’t miss out.
But they all put in a lot more, and therefore received more. Over the program there’d be 220 local drug action teams which should be 15 or 16 to South Australia and that’s what South Australia would get. But we need to encourage the Government to get moving, let’s put it that way.
Right. The Minister said she’d written to you. What has she written about?
Who knows, I just suspect that she’s only done it in the last very brief while. But the point here is very clear, on an absolute pro rata basis, South Australia would have got between two and three teams.
They got two but it only applied for three, had the highest success rate, but by far dramatically the lowest application rate.
That comes down to whether or not a Government says I want this to happen in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, I really want to push something because we’ve got an issue with ice right in the centre of Adelaide.
So those are the things where a government can be pro-active, and I’d reach out to them and say look, work with the city of Adelaide, work with the hospital network there, work with the Salvation Army who could lead it.
These are the sorts of things where a proactive government will step in. You know I gave you examples of four other Governments two Liberal two Labor. Sometimes the Government gets tired, I’m sorry to say, looking on from Victoria, but visiting South Australia frequently it does look as if they’re tired.
Before I let you go, the story in today’s Fin Review. Are you going to partially lift the freeze on the Medicare rebate in the Budget?
I understand the question, we’re working incredibly well with doctors. I won’t preempt the budget but we’ve been working extremely well, I would say the best that the Coalition has worked with the AMA, the Australian Medical Association, and the College of GPs in many, many years.
And I think it will be a very good budget for health.
Alright, because you would understand that this would help restore your standing with voters over the issue, given the Mediscare campaign that you guys complained about it bitterly.
I understand the public views around it and I care a lot about that. I care most of all about the quality of treatment for patients and the environment for doctors. It will be, in my judgment, a very, very good health Budget.
Alright, so in a nutshell if we want more money to fight ice can the Minister ask or can she not ask?
She can ask. But they need to actually put forward projects that unfortunately, and I don’t blame the public at all, the South Australian Government just didn’t help create the environment that was created in other states where their governments, Liberal or Labor, both became very active in helping to put forward local projects.
There were only three projects put forward in South Australia, by far the lowest real number, let alone rate, in the country. And then South Australia got two out of those three, the highest success rate.
Could we go back and get more if we want to?
Yeah, we’ve only done the first 40 out of 220. So on a population basis you should get 15 to 16 teams.
And if the applications come in and they’re of sufficient quality then I’ll make sure that there’s a very good outcome for South Australia in line with the population, as should be the case.
And Nick Xenophon and I have discussed precisely this, as have I with Simon Birmingham and Nicole Flint.
Alright. Thank you Greg Hunt, Health Minister.