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Transcript of joint remarks: St Lucia, Queensland: 26 August 2013: The Coalition's commitment to fund the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research.



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JOH

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

26 August 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR JOINT REMARKS WITH THE HON. PETER DUTTON MHR, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGEING AND SENATOR CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGEING AND MENTAL HEALTH,

ST LUCIA, QUEENSLAND

Subjects: The Coalition's commitment to fund the Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research.

E&OE...........................................................................................................................................

[Start of recording]

TONY ABBOTT:

I want to thank Professor Perry Bartlett and Professor Jürgen Götz for making Jane, myself, Peter Dutton and Connie Fierravanti-Wells so welcome here.

As everyone knows, it is a good thing to see life expectancy growing and Australia has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. That's a good thing. Over the life of the Howard Government, life expectancy at birth here in Australia increased by three years. In part, because of developments and improvements in our health system. In part, because of developments and improvements to health and medical research and as Health Minister for part of that time I was proud to be associated with some of those changes. But as our population ages, obviously we are going to have an ever greater burden of the diseases of old age, of which the most insidious is dementia.

Something like one in four of people at age 85 have dementia. Right now there's close to 400,000 Australians with dementia, absent effective treatments and preventions, we will have close to a million Australians with dementia by 2050. Right now if you look at National Health and Medical Research Council spending. We've got over $100 million a year on cancer research. We’ve got almost $100 million a year on heart disease research. We've got about $60 million a year for diabetes research and for mental health research, but only $20 million a year for dementia research.

That's why yesterday at the campaign launch I pledged $200 million over five years towards added research in dementia and $9 million of that $200 million will come to the Clem Jones Centre for Dementia Research here at the University of Queensland. This is one of our leading centres. The $9 million that an incoming Coalition government pledges to this centre will match a $9 million pledge from the Queensland Government and it will enable this centre to double in size over the next few years. This is an important investment in tackling a disease which has the potential to wreak havoc in the lives of so many people. Even now there's over a million Australians who are caring for people with dementia. We owe it to them to try to

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make their lives better. We owe it to them to try to ensure that future generations do not suffer as much as current generations are.

We have world beating medical researchers here in this country, let's give them a go when it comes to tackling this insidious disease and that's what this announcement is all about. All of our policies in this election are designed to make a practical impact in the lives of the Australian people. Should this research bear fruit, I can think of no more worthwhile thing to do in the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians, that's why I think this is a good investment and a better future for all of our people. I'm going to ask Peter and Connie to speak briefly to these remarks.

PETER DUTTON:

Well Tony, thank you very much. Thank you to Jane who is the local Member here. Thank you also to Connie for being here today. This is one of the most remarkable campuses across the country and the Institute here is a great credit to the vice-chancellor and to many of the researchers here.

Our research community across the country really are world class. When Tony Abbott was Health Minister he presided over the biggest increase in medical research funding in our country's history and really he's reinforced that through the announcement of $200 million going into dementia research, but also our response as a Coalition to the McKeon review as well. The Government took over 170 days to respond to the McKeon review and only did so during the course of the election campaign. We responded before that so that we could provide certainty to those researches, because we want to retain as many of those researchers in our country as possible. If we do that we can create a stable environment for people to invest in philanthropically but also at a Government level as well. Then we will get the sorts of breakthroughs that we envisage from this institute and many others. So thank you so much to the vice-chancellor, to everybody for making us feel so welcome today. I look forward very much if we win the election on the 7th of September to making sure that we can restore integrity to the medical research approach from a Federal Government.

The Federal Government in 2011 threatened to pull out $400 million for medical research. We opposed that at the time and we stand as the next future government I hope to provide certainty to researchers across the country and to the research community which is one of the best and most august in the world. Thank you.

CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS:

Thank you, Jane. It's a pleasure to be here today. When, Tony, you were Minister you made dementia a national priority and this is building on the great work that we did in Government. When we talk about dementia today we talk about the 320,000 people who have dementia, but we also talk about the 1.2 million carers today and can I say that there are thousands of people around Australia for whom dementia is a very, very important thing. I speak from personal experience. My mother, 83-year-old, looks after my father 84-year-old who has dementia and he's at home.

Our family is one of the millions of families around Australia today that are waiting not just for a cure but they're also waiting for important research like is done here at the Clem Jones Centre to be translated into day-to-day ways that we can help those older Australians. And it's not just, as Tony said, one in four of our over 85-year-olds who have dementia, but especially for people that do come from a non-English speaking background, they don't just lose their cognitive ability but they also lose their language and revert to their dialect of origin. So it's not just an issue of mainstream, it’s a very important issue for our non-English speaking background. So Tony, it's a great pleasure to be here. Can I, in conclusion, recognise the work that Alzheimer's Australia has done and in particular Ita Buttrose and the work that they have done in raising awareness of dementia, thank you very much.

[ends]