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Thursday, 13 September 2018
Page: 51

Medical Research


Mr GOODENOUGH (Moore) (14:38): My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister update the House on how the government's plan to keep our economy strong is delivering record investment in world-leading medical research, including for rare cancers and diseases?


Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Health) (14:38): I want to thank the member for Moore in particular for his support for R U OK? Day along with all members on this side of the House and including the members for Eden-Monaro and Franklin and the member for Berowra. Many people have been involved in very good work over a very long period of time. As the member for Moore knows, in order to support any branch of medical activity, we need a strong economy, whether it's medicines, whether it is our clinical services or whether it's our medical research. One of the things that we've seen today is the record levels of employment, which go to the strong economy, which go to the ability to support new medicines, clinical treatment and, in particular, medical research. So I am delighted that this week we've been able to very significantly add to support for medical research by having such a strong economy in which the Prime Minister has played such a role, in which so many people on this side have played such a role.

At the heart of this is the fact we've been able to allocate $6 billion to medical research, including $3½ billion for the National Health and Medical Research Council, $500 million for the Biomedical Translation Fund and $2 billion for the Medical Research Future Fund. As part of that Medical Research Future Fund, one of the most important things that we have done is support new clinical trials with a nearly quarter-of-a-billion-dollar program.

The rare cancers and rare diseases clinical trial program is about giving people hope and opportunity and treatment where they have previously not had such a chance. In particular, this week, we were able to announce six new trials for rare diseases—in particular, trials for rare cancers and rare conditions that would otherwise not have been done—with a $10 million injection. What we've seen is support for pancreatic cancer, traumatic brain injury, rare skin tumours, myeloma, myelofibrosis and conditions such as glioblastoma, a brain cancer which can be so catastrophic. What these trials will do is not only give the individuals who are on them access to potentially lifesaving or life-changing treatments but also bring forward treatments that can be applied to all Australians with those conditions going forward.

I had the privilege of meeting the family of a little girl called Ellie a year ago. That girl was subject to a trial program which sequenced her DNA and found the cause of her tumour, and she was then able to be treated. She was not expected to make her first birthday. Only two weeks ago, she celebrated her second birthday. That's what clinical trials are about, that's what a good economy is about and that's what we're about.