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Thursday, 27 May 2004
Page: 29377

Mr LATHAM (Leader of the Opposition) (2:00 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, six months ago I asked if the government would fund the pneumococcal vaccine for all Australian newborn babies. Despite the same question being asked on three other occasions, the Australian people still do not have an answer. Will the Prime Minister now adopt Labor's plan and fund this vaccine for all Australian newborn babies?

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Health and Ageing) —I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question. I can inform the House that, as outlined to the House by the Prime Minister on previous occasions, the government is in discussion with the company, Wyeth, about how quickly we can get access to this vaccine and about what price it will be. I can say this: we do want, if we can, to provide this vaccine, and we do want to provide it, if we can, as quickly as possible. What we will not be doing is paying for it by ripping away the MedicarePlus safety net. If you look at the Labor Party's policy, it is proposing to fund a universal pneumococcal program by scrapping the MedicarePlus arrangements that were made in the Senate, including the MedicarePlus safety net. We are not going to provide one lot of people with a benefit by ripping off a benefit from other people.