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Transcript of Melbourne Doorstop

Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's Melbourne doorstop regarding the opening of Holmesglen Private Hospital, $5.9 million for prostate cancer nurses, the Australian Olympic Committee, and the Federal Budget, on 27 April 2017.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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I am delighted to be here today with Tim Wilson and Robert Cooke for the official opening of Holmesglen Private Hospital.

This is a partnership between Healthscope and Holmesglen. It’s exactly what should be happening in Australia, additional facilities to provide improved care for more Australians.

We have a wonderful public and private system in Australia. We have to make sure that that system is improved, and already what I’ve seen is that we have an outstanding health system.

My belief is that through the long-term National Health Plan we can have the best health system in the world.

One of the things which is very important to Australians is treatment, scanning, and guidance in relation to some of our most prevalent cancers.

We have an outstanding breast care network in this country. We also have an excellent prostate care network in Australia.

So I am delighted to announce that the Government will be extending the prostate care nurses program, with $5.9 million over three years for 14 nurses in rural and regional Australia.

This is about taking care of those Australians who face prostate cancer risks. We know that we lose approximately 3000 Australians to prostate cancer a year, so it’s a very serious condition, but we can improve those outcomes and we can improve patient care, which is why we are contributing this funding, ultimately to protect lives, improve lives, and save lives.


Minister, you talked in the opening about insurance premiums being an issue for many Australians.

Are you concerned that with a facility like this it might simply be priced out of reach because people can’t afford private health insurance?


Well, obviously Healthscope has done its own analysis and they’ve had a very significant uptake so far.

I’ll let Robert speak to their view about the likely range of patients, but it’s already a success, it’s likely to be a success.

Significantly, the private hospital system takes pressure off public waiting lists. The private hospital system takes pressure off public waiting lists and it gives Australians choice. So two incredibly important outcomes.


But is that, more broadly speaking, an issue that Government’s looking to address?


I am absolutely focussed, as I’ve said since day one, on private health insurance premiums. We’ve just had the lowest increase in 10 years, but we can and must do better.

Every dollar matters to Australian families, every dollar matters to Australian seniors and pensioners, and so my task, working with people such as Tim, is to find the ways to reduce pressure.

I think we can do more on prostheses, I think we can do more on the issue of private patients in public hospitals.

Both of those offer significant opportunities for reducing the pressure on private health insurance, which in turn reduces the pressure on public waiting lists.


This extra funding for prostate care that you’ve just announced, can you give any detail as to how and when and where that’s going to be applied?


So that will be applied in 15 places for the 14 nurses. One will double up across rural and regional Australia.

It’s around all of the states, here in Victoria, for example, Ballarat, Mornington, other examples, and so it’s focussed on rural and regional areas.

It’s making sure that those who might otherwise not have the access to prostate cancer nurses get that access, which helps them with diagnosis, with treatment, with care, and, in the worst of situations, with comfort.


Budget around the corner, are you confident there’ll be any sort of breakthrough on the Medicare rebate freeze?


We’ve done tremendous work, and I want to thank the AMA and the Royal Australian College of GPs for their cooperation so far. I think we’re making real progress.

I won’t pre-empt any announcements, but I couldn’t be more thankful for the work of Michael Gannon at the AMA, and Bastian Seidel at the College of GPs.

I am very hopeful and very confident that we will have deep, long-term agreements which will assist with doctors and assist with the affordability of medical care for patients.


And is that hope based on a timeframe of the budget being within a few weeks?


That’s a very reasonable question, and very reasonably I won’t put a timeframe on it.


Okay. Putting your sporting hat on for a moment, the biggest issue of sports governance in the country right now is what’s happening with the AOC.

Are you concerned about some of the allegations that have been made about the culture that’s supposedly flourished there?


So, an investigation has been called, I think that is the right and proper thing to do. Some language has been used which is inappropriate, and I want to make it absolutely clear that language which flippantly casts aspersions on those with disabilities is not appropriate and has no place in Australian public or private discourse.


What would you suggest, there is an investigation going, as you say. Are you concerned about there’s been claims about the money and how’s it’s being spent, the wages that are paid to these senior executives. Would you like to see some sort of change there?


So, I’ll leave the election process to the sports. They are independent bodies electing an independent president, so I won’t venture an opinion on the outcome of something in which the Federal Government has no role.

I will say that the language used in relation to those with disabilities is utterly inappropriate. It was inappropriate in the past, it’s completely unacceptable in this day and age.


Has it damaged the Olympic movement in some way in Australia?


I suspect that once the election is over everybody will move forward very quickly, but this needs to be resolved and settled and moved on. It’s not a body over which the Australian Government has any control, or to which it gives any funding, but it is important that this is resolved the day that the vote is complete.


And just to be clear, when you’re talking about the language, these relate to some of the emails from John Coates and others?


Correct. Okay. Thank you.

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