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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 11


Mr MATHESON (Macarthur) (10:18): I second the motion and I rise to support the member for Lindsay's motion on the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, particularly in relation to the growth of complementary medicines in Australia.

The complementary medicine industry is growing rapidly in Australia. A recent report by Complementary Medicines Australia indicates that the complementary medicine industry in Australia generates more than $3.5 billion in revenue per year and that this is expected to grow to $4.6 billion by 2018, supporting over 40,000 jobs. Australian companies export around $200 million worth of complementary medicines to more than 20 countries in south-east Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Exports continue to grow at a higher rate than domestic consumption. Domestically, two out of three Australians use complementary medicines as part of their integrated health care each year. Through this, the government collects in excess of $200 million per annum in GST on the sale of complementary medicines and services. There are also a number of benefits for everyday Australians. For instance, more than 40 per cent of users take complementary medicines for chronic medical conditions where current treatments may be expensive, ineffective or have unwanted side effects.

I am very proud to say that the National Institute of Complementary Medicine is based at the University of Western Sydney in my electorate of Macarthur in Sydney's south-west. The institute was established in 2007 by Prime Minister Tony Abbott when he was Minister for Health and Ageing under John Howard. Since then, the institute's reputation as a world-class leader in this industry has well and truly flourished. It provides leadership and support for strategically directed research into complementary medicine and the translation of evidence into clinical practice and relevant policy.

The institute's advanced research and policy work in this field is intended to lead to better health outcomes for Australians, to increased manufacturing and farming opportunities in this country and to capture international export prospects, as well as to deliver new knowledge based jobs for Australians. The institute currently employs more than 50 staff and research students performing world-class clinical trials, preclinical studies and research, and has a remarkable international reputation in the field of traditional Chinese medicine.

The National Institute of Complementary Medicine is funded by the university, industry partners, philanthropy and research grants and contracts. It is working to gain approval from the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration for the first prescription drug in Chinese herbal medicine, and is currently leading a phase-3 clinical trial in the treatment of vascular dementia.

Australia's world-class reputation in Chinese medicine is recognised and respected by the People's Republic of China, due in part to the collaborative work the institute has conducted with its partners in China. Over the years, the institute has established close working relationships with many of China's leading pharmaceutical and herbal medicine companies, hospitals and universities. These relationships have opened up a range of investment and innovation opportunities for Australia, which are likely to get stronger into the future. As a leading global research entity and regulator of Chinese medicine, the National Institute of Complementary Medicine is key to unlocking the market potential in China. In addition to its scientific research, the institute's significant role in policy research has led to Australia being the first nation to regulate the practice of Chinese medicine.

As I have mentioned, the institute has created significant domestic investment and innovation opportunities, and plays an important role in broadening opportunities for tertiary study in this growth industry. At UWS's Campbelltown campus, students can undertake bachelor and master courses in complementary medicine. The institute equips graduates to become nationally registered practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine and work within the healthcare system as independent primary care practitioners. UWS also offers postgraduate training to current traditional Chinese medicine practitioners to assist them to grow as specialists in their clinical practice. The Master of Health Science (Traditional Chinese Medicine) course, for instance, is the only degree of its kind in Australia and is sought out by a wide variety of practitioners.

The complementary medicine industry offers significant economic and health opportunities for this country. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and commend the National Institute of Complementary Medicine for their hard work in supporting these opportunities. I note that there are other members from Western Sydney—the member for Chifley and the member for Parramatta—who are going to speak around the free trade agreement in a private member's bill, and I wish them all the very best.