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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6206


Ms ROXON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (6:04 PM) —I thank the member for New England. He has been a very persistent advocate on behalf of Jenny Barlow, who—I think largely in memory of her husband’s treatment—has been a persistent advocate for this particular type of treatment in Australia. The member is right that my staff have met with her and I think the department also has met with her. In Australia there is not currently any evidence or recommendation that this is an effective treatment for cancer. However, we are open-minded about any new sort of research or evidence. I was not aware that some international experts were coming to deal with this particular issue. I am certainly happy to undertake to the member to get advice about who is coming and make sure that you and your constituent have the opportunity to talk to the right people. It may be that if this is under the auspices in any way of Cancer Australia it would actually be preferable to meet with some of those people, but my office is certainly happy to be kept up to date.

This budget makes some huge investments in cancer treatment—in new regional services that will be able to be provided. It includes $600 million for cancer drugs. It is something that we are very focused on as a government and of course we have to keep abreast of new developments. If research shows us that we can do things differently we need to be able to respond to that. I do need to just sound a word of warning because we have been down this track before with your constituent: currently in Australia there does not appear to be any evidence that this is an effective intervention. But we certainly are open-minded to any new research or international evidence that would change our position on that.