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Abbott fails to deliver another election promise.

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MEDIA RELEASE JULIA GILLARD M.P. Shadow Minister for Health

Manager of Opposition Business 30 August 2005


National leadership and progress on cancer, a key National Health Priority, is being compromised because the Minister for Health, Tony Abbott, has failed to deliver another election promise.

The Howard Government’s cancer policy was hastily tipped out at the last election in response to Labor’s cancer prevention and treatment policies. The Howard Government committed to the establishment of Cancer Australia a new expert advisory group, to help assess and deliver best practice in cancer services.

That was 4 October, 2004. Since then - nothing.

This mismanagement and incompetence dashes the hopes of cancer patients, researchers, policy makers, health care professionals and the Cancer Councils and community groups for a coordinated and re-invigorated approach to cancer policy and funding priorities.

It also undermines the essential work of the National Cancer Control Initiative (NCCI). The NCCI is the current key expert reference group on cancer, set up to advise the Federal Government on all aspects of prevention, detection, treatment and palliation. It was proposed that the NCCI would be subsumed into the new Cancer Australia and NCCI has begun the essential task of developing initial priorities for the new body.

However the NCCI’s current and future work agenda is under threat because its funding and contract with the Federal Government will expire in December, and nothing has been done to establish Cancer Australia in its place. Last month the head of the NCCI, Professor Mark Elwood, was forced to send a letter to key constituents and supporters outlining the dilemma confronting the NCCI and its staff, who are facing an uncertain future.

Along with failing to deliver on Cancer Australia, Minister Abbott has retreated on the promise of a national screening program for bowel cancer and Parliamentary Secretary Pyne’s only effort to deliver the promised program to help pregnant women quit smoking has been a media statement issued in June about an advisory group which has yet to be announced and yet to meet.

The Howard Government’s election commitments on cancer have been exposed as a sham. Tony Abbott has broken yet another election promise in health. Australian cancer patients, their families and treatment teams deserve better than this incompetence.

30 AUGUST 2005

For more information please contact: Kimberley Gardiner 0401 533 002