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Speech to the Medicines Australia Parliamentary Dinner, Canberra



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Speec hto th e Medic ines Australia ParliamentaryDinner, Canb erra

WED 29 FEB RUARY2012

Prime Minister

It is a pleasure to welcome you all to Parliament House, the home of Australia’s very much alive-and-well democracy.

I’m here as Prime Minister to acknowledge this industry and its magnificent contribution to the health of our people and the productivity of our nation.

When we talk about the success of Australia’s economy, and our contemporary success is simply remarkable, we celebrate the contribution made by sectors such as mining and manufacturing, and we are right to do so.

B ut there’s one sector that deserves to be up in lights along-side those others, and that is the pharmaceutical industry.

Y ou are a great Australian success story, and on behalf of the nation, I honour your success tonight.

Like manufacturing, this is an industry that has said to the rest of the world: We can do this. We can make it. We can compete with the best. And you have.

Friends, I often talk about the new economy growing from the opportunities of the Asian century and a future based on skills and innovation.

Y ou industry encapsulates exactly what I’m talking about. These are skilled jobs held by skilled people. Innovating. Value-adding. K nowledge-rich. Employing 14,000 people and sending abroad exports worth $4 billion a year, half of them to Asia. Like my old friend, the late J ohn B utton, I want this industry to succeed and thrive.

That’s why we’ve worked hard with you to make Australia an attractive destination for global investors through the R&D tax incentive and changing the rules on intellectual property. B ut, of course, it goes beyond financial incentives.

We are also working to deliver first-class infrastructure like the National B roadband Network. We’ve opened up university enrolments so that places in science and pharmacy are now uncapped. And we’re cutting the red tape surrounding clinical trials so you can get on and do what you do best.

Above all, we’re working with you to keep the Pharmaceutical B enefits Scheme strong and sustainable for the 21st century as we face a growing and ageing population.

I know this is bipartisan gathering but I want to say a word about the PB S and what it means for Australian society. The PB S is no accident.

It’s part of more than a hundred years of building a social safety net to bring wellbeing and peace-of-mind to Australian families.

It started in the first decade of Federation with the age and disability pensions.

We added Medibank, now Medicare in the 1970s. Universal superannuation in the 1980s. The National Disability Insurance Scheme in this decade. And back in the middle of it all, we had B en Chifley creating the PB S. The year was 1947.Our nation had just been through a terrible world war and Chifley wanted to build a nation worthy of its heroes.

He’d also lived through two Depressions and witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of poverty and inequality.

So Chifley envisioned a different Australia -a fairer Australia. A nation that would bring security and dignity to all its people, regardless of their wealth or means. In creating the PB S, Chifley was not only engaged in policy development but in a contest of ideas.

B ecause as with Medicare and superannuation, the PB S was not always universally welcomed.

B ut like Medicare and superannuation, the PB S has become an integral and trusted part of Australian life.

We cannot imagine this country without it. Affordable pharmaceuticals -backed by scientific rigour -so that illness does not lead families to financial destitution because of the cost of medicines as it did in Chifley’s day.

Today we are custodians of the scheme. Charged with making it efficient and sustainable so it continues to bring comfort and certainty to Australian families for years and decades to come.

I know we’ve had some tough decisions and difficult conversations in that process. And I’m here tonight because I’m grateful that Medicines Australia made those conversations constructive and professional.

With goodwill and compromise on all sides, we’ve found way through and we will continue to work with you to ensure the sustainability of the Pharmaceuticals B enefits Scheme.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the Government and Medicines Australia on behalf of industry is but one way we can provide certainty for both parties.

That’s not only good news for the millions of Australians who rely on the PB S. It’s a template of effective and respectful engagement for those in industry who would seek to influence government.

So friends, I’m here tonight to pay tribute to Medicines Australia and to Will Delaat as he bids you farewell. As an organisation, you have been well served by officials like Will and B rendan Shaw who set a high standard for advocacy in public policy.

As a result, we are maintaining the integrity and sustainability of the PB S as one of the most respected and rigorous pharmaceutical schemes in the world.

Will Delaat has made a significant contribution to that outcome. He can be very proud of the mark he left on your industry and on public life in this nation. A person of quality and a person of substance.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in acknowledging Will de Laat as I present this certificate of appreciation on your behalf.

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