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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 1942

Cancer Treatment


Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:37): My question is to Senator Nash, the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care. Could the minister please update the Senate on the coalition government's commitment to fighting the scourge of cancer, especially in children?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:38): I thank the senator for this very important question. The coalition government is absolutely committed to fighting cancer, and I am pleased to say that this government is the single biggest investor in cancer research in Australia. Through the National Health and Medical Research Council over $2 billion has been provided for research in to cancer since 2000.

Our medical research is set to increase significantly through our $20 billion medical research future fund. The initiative announced by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health and Aged Care over the weekend is further demonstration of the coalition's commitment to beating cancer through research and through supporting those who experience cancer.

On Saturday the Prime Minister announced $20 million for infrastructure and equipment to support the new zero childhood cancer collaboration network. This will be a network of excellence, six hospitals and seven research centres across Australia working together, sharing information, sharing learning, sharing expertise to improve the treatment of childhood cancers. The network will operate in a hub and spoke model, with the Children’s Cancer Institute at the centre. The centres are Children's Cancer Institute, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Kids Research Institute, Centre for Childhood Cancer Research, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Murdoch Children's Research Institute and Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute. The two-year zero childhood cancer collaboration network will involve working with 200 children across Australia with high risk for relapsed cancer, then move to a national rollout available to all children with high-risk cancer in all children's hospitals. The network of hospitals and research centres will be used to map the molecular and genetic structure of tumours and responses to treatments and share treatment results.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bushby, a supplementary question?



Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:40): Can the minister also update the Senate on how the coalition government is supporting women who suffer from cancer?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:40): On Friday, in your home state of Tasmania, the Prime Minister announced $20.5 million over four years in new funding for McGrath Breast Care Nurses to ensure ongoing support for people being treated for breast cancer. Since 2013, McGrath Breast Care Nurses have supported around 15,000 Australians and their families. The government's new funding will deliver up to 57 of the McGrath Foundation's nurse positions in approximately 55 locations across the country.

Over 80 per cent of the Commonwealth funded McGrath nurses are employed in rural and regional Australia, and breast cancer is the most common cancer for Australian women. The McGrath Breast Care Nurses provide physical, psychological and emotional support to people diagnosed with breast cancer, their families and carers, starting from diagnosis and continuing throughout their treatment.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bushby, a final supplementary question?



Senator BUSHBY (TasmaniaChief Government Whip in the Senate) (14:41): Will the minister outline what other measures the government has announced in the fight against cancer?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (14:41): One out of every six dollars spent—nearly $1.6 billion—on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is for cancer medicines. Since 2000, the government has invested more than $2 billion on cancer research. Since the coalition has been in government, we have funded substantial new lifesaving and life-changing cancer drugs that treat conditions: $57 for melanoma treatment, $191 million for breast cancer treatment, $60 million for lung cancer and $92 million for pancreatic cancer treatments. These investments are not cheap, but they save lives. We continue to deliver on our promise to list medicines recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee without fear or favour. I am once again very pleased to stand in this parliament and be part of a government that is delivering real dollars, cutting-edge research, lifesaving medicines and comprehensive services in our fight against cancer.