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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) (Laughs) It's not really going

to affect me, I don't

think. You smoke by choice? I

smoke by choice. The smokers of

Australia. Joining us from

Sydney now is the Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon. Good morning, thanks for

joining us. A pleasure. We've

heard from those people and I

guess others emailing us today

just what an economic hardship

it will be on people

hopeless/addicted to tobacco.

Do you have concerns some of

the precious household funds

now could be siphoned off to

pay for more expensive

cigarettes rather than going to

food on the table as it needs

to be? It's always a balancing

act. We have very clear advice

that you need to make the increase significant enough

that a number of people a large

number of people will make the

decision that today is the day

to give up smoking, a very

preventative health task force dangerous habit. Our

actually recommended that we increase the excise by more

than 60%. We didn't do that.

We have made this significant

increase which we're advised is

a sizable enough one to make

the health impact, but bearing

in mind it is always a

balancing act. Some people are

seriously addicted. We want to

help them to be able to quit,

but we also don't want to put

unnecessary pressure on

budgets. It is a balancing act

and we believe this is the best

way to achieve a good health

outcome and we do encourage

everyone to try to take this

opportunity to give up smoking,

extend their own health and

lives and, of course, save a

significant amount of money for

the family budget. Is it at all

possible just to get a yes or

no on this, if you start to get

word from welfare agency

organisations that they're

distress because the money's seeing more families turn up in

going on cigarettes rather than

than food, are you prepared to

revisit the amount we're

talking about here, the 25%

hike? No, we won't be

revisiting that amount. The

truth is if you are a packet a

day smoker you are already

spending a big chunk of your

disposeable income on cigarette

expenses. It is a big cost.

It puts people under pressure

and the best way to be able to

deal with that is to give up

this habit. There is a lot of

support available. We

encourage people to call Quitline, to see their doctor.

There are a range of

opportunities. We know it's

tough, but this measure is

actually aimed to stop people smoking, to discourage young

people from picking it up to

start with, particularly with

our plain packaging initiative

which was announced yesterday.

But this tax increase is an important component. We want

to price people out of this

market. The less tobacco that

we sell, the more lives that we

save and that's our aim. Can

you actually guarantee the

money raised from this

particular tax is entirely

quarantined and goes only

towards your hospital reform program? We have. The Prime

Minister made that commitment

yesterday. Not just that this

increase will go to health, but

that all of the money that is

collected from tobacco excise

will go to health. We need

these extra investments to fund

the health and hospitals reform

plan that we've put to the

country and now had agreed with

all of the State and Territory

leaders with the exception of

Western Australia, and we think

that's an important investment

and we think it means this

measure has two benefits. One,

it will discourage thousands of

Australians to give up. We

encourage them to give up

smoking and discourage them

from starting. But two, it

will provide additional funds

that are much needed to reform

our health system. Moving onto

other issues, there's a story on the front page the 'Australian' saying nurses

raised concerns about a West

Australian anaesthetist months

before health officials began

alerting about 250 of his patients they might have been

exposed to diseases such as

HIV, what have you managed to

establish about that particular

issue? From the time that was

on the front page of the paper

today I haven't been able to

establish much. It is a

worrying report. I have asked

my staff to pursue with the

West Australians. Obviously it's a matter that has been

brought to their attention. It

seems a particularly worrying

problem. This is the second one

we've got now, there's one in

Victoria, too, I think? It

seems to be an allegation about

not adhering to what are

appropriate clinical standards

and, of course, one of the

things that we have had

agreement with the States and Territories to introduce is to have national clinical

standards that apply across the

board. That will have an

impact but we still will have

to be able to cope with any

individual complaints that are

made and this is a matter that

the West Australian Government

is dealing with. I will be

seeking to speak to them today

to get further information. We

seem to have lost you there.

Go on. Just going back to the

tobacco issue for one moment,

because I am very concerned -

and I know you haven't raised

this yet - but I'm concerned

suggest that the Liberal Party that reports overnight seem to

is not going to support this

measure. Quite a surprise to

us, given that it has actually

been Liberal Party policy for

the last 12 months to support

an increase in tobacco excise

and I am calling on Mr Abbott

to make clear his position,

because as a former Health

Minister I know that he isn't a

fan of smoking. I know that he

understands the harm that can

be caused and I can't

understand why he would want to

play politics with this measure and after 12 months of supporting an increase would

yesterday change his mind. I

issue that needs to be think that is an important

politics this morning either pursued. I don't want to play

and it's not clear to me where

that position might be, or

indeed that there is firm

opposition to what you've

announced. Maybe that's yet to

play out. Can we get some clarification also on the

temporary ban that's been put

in place for immunising

children younger than 5 with

the combined seasonal influenza

vaccine. What have you managed

to establish about what testing

has been done about that newly

companies that develop combined vaccine by the three

it? Thank you, 'cause I think

this is a really important

issue because of course parents

are concerned. This is a

particular problem that seems

to have arisen with the

seasonal flu vaccine. It's not

something that is ordinarily

given to young children. Its

major target and the areas the

Commonwealth funds is for older Australians over 65.

Absolutely no reports of any

concerns there and we should encourage people that are

ordinarily in receipt of

seasonal flu vaccine to

continue to do so. It's also

important that other vaccines

for young children have not

been subject to any sorts of

concerns. That includes the

straight swine flu vaccine. So

parents can continue to protect

their children and should be

encouraged to for all sorts of

other vaccinations that are

part of their normal care and

protection . What we've been

able to establish is there have

been with the seasonal flu

provided to children under 5

and it seems to actually be the

very young children where most

of these examples have arisen,

so perhaps under 2 years old,

that there have been a number

of fits and convulsions which

are not unheard of when there

are vaccines, but are very

rare. We are still trying to

gather more data to see if

there is something else in the

community that might be causing

it, something else in the

vaccine. This is a process

we've pursued for the last 40

years with seasonal flu, so

it's very unlikely I'm told by the Chief Medical Officer that

it would be something to do

with the production of the

vaccine itself. It is simply,

we are simply not in a position

to understand why these

reactions have occurred.

That's why as a particularly

cautious move, we are not

recommending this be given to

children under 5, the seasonal

flu vaccine, but we encourage people to continue to receive the other protections. Minister, we know, time is tight and we are trying

to get to a particular issue

here, which is what have you

managed to establish, what have

the companies told you about

the testing they've done to the

newly-combined vaccine. The

new element is the two vaccines

are combined and that seems to

be causing the reaction. Without going through the whole

chapter and verse, what have

you found out about the testing

they did on that newly-combined

vaccine? I'm not aware that

they do testing on the combined

vaccine. Have you asked them

whether they do? Yes, I have asked. What was their

answer? What I was about to say

is this is the same process

that is followed as in the

past. So they assure me it is

not the combination - and to be honest it's not the

manufacturer's word I'm taking

it's my Chief Medical Officer - and of course, there was very

extensive testing for the swine

flu vaccine in isolation. What

is now trying to be ascertained

is whether there is something

with the combination and the

application that is causing a

particular reaction for young

children. This hasn't been

seen before, but I stress it

may be that because this is not

normally provided in large

numbers to young children, the

focus for seasonal vaccine

protection is older Australians

and particularly vulnerable,

for example, chronic disease

sufferers. So it may just be a

larger number of people

receiving the vaccine. Therefore, there is a

proportion who have a reaction

and I am asking my Chief

Medical Officer the TGA who's

the authority responsible and,

of course, the State

authorities to provide us, and parents, with advice absolutely

as soon as possible, but in the

interim the decision has been

made to suspend the provision

of that vaccine to those who