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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 33


Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (11:55): I commend the member for Bennelong for this motion and I pay tribute to all the other speakers. I think it has been a sensible debate about this review into the TGA and about some of the issues that the industry is facing; the need to maintain a rigorous patient-first TGA that puts the safety of people first, both for medicines and for medical devices.

The shadow minister made it clear in his speeches that one of the key things we are looking for in all these processes is certainty. And that is exactly what we have not seen from the government. Today is a classic example of the uncertainty that they have thrown into the mix for the people of Australia. It has spread from health outwards into other areas of government. Of course we know they have worried every general practitioner in Australia and every patient of a general practitioner in Australia with their GP tax or their 'co-payment'; first of all it was $7 and then it was an attack on fee-for-service models for general practice. We know tremendous uncertainty was introduced into people's primary healthcare arrangements. We know our pharmaceuticals have been driven up. We know there are $80 billion in cuts; $50 billion in health. We know that there is a scoping study into the privatisation of Australian Hearing. There are many people out there who are uncertain about the services that they will get. The very good services that are currently provided by Australian Hearing may be privatised, and of course the uncertainty related to that is very worrying for all of those Australians with a hearing issue. They have introduced unparalleled uncertainty into the healthcare of all Australians and those working within the health sector.

We have heard Cochlear talked about a number of times. In late January—30 January this year—I paid a visit to the Australian Hearing Hub, which I think is in the electorate of Bennelong, at Macquarie University. With Doug Cameron, I had the opportunity to meet with a number of organisations, and I would just like to list them and thank them for welcoming us and giving us such a great demonstration of all of the really wonderful things that are happening out there in research, technology, service provision and of course jobs and exports in this area. We had the opportunity to meet with: Macquarie Speech and Hearing Clinic, Centre for Cognition and its Disorders, Cochlear, The Shepherd Centre, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre and Australian Hearing and National Acoustic Laboratories.

As I said before, it is hard not to be very impressed indeed by the Hearing Hub and the services that are provided there, and the research that is being done there—not just into hearing but into its effects on cognition and its relationship with other cognitive disorders, like Alzheimer's. I learnt a lot about the research they are doing—world-leading research, cutting-edge research and research that is reliant on government commitment in part, a commitment to the services provided by Australian Hearing. This centre, the Hearing Hub, was created with money out of the higher education infrastructure fund and with research grants from the ARC.

So we know that these institutions are tremendously important. We know that TGA is particularly important. Regarding regulation in this area, as the shadow minister said, we should hasten slowly. We should be very cautious about calls for efficiency; we should allow this review to be undertaken. We should be calm and methodical. And we should give certainty to people, because people need certainty around Medicare, they need certainty around their GP services, around primary care, and they need certainty around the operation of the TGA. With that, I commend the motion to the House.

Debate adjourned.