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Transcript of Sunsine Coast Press Conference

Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's Sunshine Coast Press Conference regarding formalising arrangements for the Sunshine Coast Medical School.

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

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I’m really delighted to be here at Sunshine Coast University Hospital, this magnificent new facility. But more significantly still, it will be the home not just of a hospital, but it will be the home of one of Australia’s great medical schools going forward.

To be joined today by the Hospital CEO Scott Lisle, by David Gillespie, the Assistant Minister who’s done such a power of work to bring to fruition the Griffith University Sunshine Coast University Hospital Medical School, and our two extraordinary advocates in Andrew Wallace and Ted O’Brien.

The honest answer is this would not have happened without them. There are many people involved but they are daily advocates, they fought for this, they’ve pushed for this, they’ve helped make it happen and in five and 10 and 20 years’ time, I think they’ll look back on it and this might be one of the most important things they do in their time in Parliament.

I particularly want to acknowledge Professor Martin Betts, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Griffith University, the team from Griffith University, including David, who will be the Dean of Medicine and Head of School here.

So, it’s a real privilege to be here, and I am delighted to confirm that we have signed the formal partnership agreement with Griffith University to bring 50 Commonwealth Supported Places to train new medical students here on the Sunshine Coast.

Basically, as our fantastic potential students such as Margo and Heather and Carlos and Jack said, there’s nothing cooler than being able to train here on the Sunshine Coast and live here on the Sunshine Coast, and we hope that they go on to practice here on the Sunshine Coast.

We know it’s a fact that the more people train in an area, the more likely they are to stay in that area. You’ve got a world class facility which is ready and fit for purpose to train our doctors of the future and so, I am just thrilled that that has come to pass.

I think I might invite Martin to say something from Griffith.


Thanks very much Minister. I’d just like to echo those words and say how delighted Griffith University is to be part of this announcement here today.

We’re delighted that we’ll be able to provide education for 50 more medical students here at the Sunshine Coast. We’re delighted that the medical school that we have at Griffith is now being able to provide some meet some real needs here in the regions for a future health workforce.

It’s a great day for Griffith. We’ve graduated more than 1000 medical students over the years. We have every confidence and full commitment to make this a great success and we’re delighted to be part of it today. Thank you.


Andrew and Ted and David.


Well, it’s a fantastic day for the Sunshine Coast to see the formal announcement of the agreement between Griffith University and the Commonwealth Government.

This will see young local Sunshine Coast students being able to study here after finishing high school, being able to do their medical degree, and obviously, one of the real challenges that we have David, isn’t it? In this country is keeping young doctors in our regions.

And this is one of the missing pieces of our jigsaw puzzle, because if they train here, then the statistics and history shows that they’ll stay here when they get older and that’s a fantastic outcome for Sunshine Coast and Sunshine Coast residents. Ted.


Thanks, Andrew. Delighted to have the Minister and the Assistant Minister, here today together with Griffith University, and this is a terrific day.

And it’s already been said but I’ll say it again that those who study in the regions are most likely to stay in the regions. And this is critical not just for the Sunshine Coast but indeed for other regions across Australia.

We also had a bunch of school students here today who aspire to study medicine here locally. And it’s also been shown that students who stay at home while studying save around $100,000 throughout their course degree.

And so look, it’s good for students, it’s good for mums and dads who’ll have their students at home with them, but most importantly it’s good for the Sunshine Coast.

And this is a day that we all stand shoulder to shoulder celebrating this university hospital, what it is today, what it promises to be in the future with a medical school. So thank you and congratulations to all involved.


And finally, Dave?


It is a great day for the Sunshine Coast, and I’d like to congratulate and thank everyone who’s been involved in this endeavour, including Andrew and Ted who have been absolute terriers for the cause of getting a full-flight medical school here on the Sunshine Coast.

For all those aspiring students out there, this is an amazing facility. I spent 33 years before politics hanging around hospitals as a gastroenterologist, and the medical degree you get here will, I suspect, be second to none.

It is a long journey to come out and hang up your shingle as a doctor, that’s why we talk about an integrated pipeline of training, particularly in the rural sense, because we want more of the medical education, not just the undergraduate or your first medical degree which you do at university and here in the Sunshine Coast University Hospital Clinical School, but your second degree when you’re studying for your college membership.

In a hospital as big as this, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of places with a growing population and a growing hospital, so you can stay and get your second degree, your fellowship or your vocational training, and head off into the beautiful suburbs around the Sunshine Coast or out into the hinterland.

I’d also like to thank my senior Minister Greg Hunt for all his support, and also to the hospital, the University Griffith, and the Queensland Government who’ve been trying to achieve the same end.

But 15 more Commonwealth Supported Places, making a cohort of 50, is just what Griffith University needed. Thanks very much everyone.


Happy to take any questions about the medical school and other issues after that.


Will all of those 50 placements be for local students?


So they’re all for domestic students, and then the university will choose the students, we hope, with a local focus and a local bias. It’ll be a matter for the university, but I suspect, Martin, there’s an overwhelming preference for local students.


Well, they’ll all be domestic students, and we’d expect the overwhelming demand to be from people close by in the Sunshine Coast. That’s very likely to be the case.


We had six put their applications in today already.


Minister, when can we expect the first students to hit the ground and start learning?




Were these placements reallocated from elsewhere?


Yeah, they were. So the system we went through is that we sought nominations from other universities, because what the AMA wanted and the general view was that there was the right overall pool for Australia, and we said to other universities we’ll give you the right to swap in an overseas-trained student, nothing to do here with Griffith, and Monash, Melbourne, and Wollongong put their hands up on a voluntary basis.

So they have provided respectively seven, five, and three places. In turn, they get the right to have full fee-paying overseas-trained students who, after an appropriate time, will return home.

So we managed to get a really good outcome where the medical profession is happy. We’ve worked closely with the AMA, and I want to thank them as well, and at the same time the integrity of what everybody was looking for here, particularly Andrew and Ted, of the full 50 Commonwealth Supported Places for domestic students.


Has that been more painless that you’d anticipated?


Well, having David Gillespie as your negotiator, he’s a skilled physician and he’s able to get people to very good outcomes. So all credit to Dave for that.


And is the State Government’s 50-50 funding offer still on the table?


Look, they have said that. I’m willing to make a concession on that.

We’re willing to fully fund the last 15 places if they agree to, instead of paying us, we will forego our payment if they agree to invest $165,000 a year in the Bloomhill Cancer Centre that we visited today in Buderim.

So that’s a magnificent centre. It’s not funded by the state. We’re willing to forego our $165,000, which would be our equivalent payment for them, and that would be a tremendous fillip for the area.

What a comprehensive cancer post-care treatment centre. Lovely people. The Commonwealth has previously provided 500,000, there’s no ongoing funding from the state, that’s not a criticism.

So in a gesture of goodwill, we’ll forego our $165,000 a year payment from the state if they invest that in the Bloomhill Cancer Centre.

Okay, thank you very, very much.


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