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Monday, 4 December 2017
Page: 9490

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Senator BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (14:47): My question is to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, representing the Minister for Health, Senator Fierravanti-Wells. Can the minister update the Senate on the Turnbull government's ongoing investment in new life-saving medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South WalesMinister for International Development and the Pacific) (14:47): I thank Senator Brockman for the question. The Turnbull government is resolutely committed to delivering cutting-edge medication to the Australian people that will save lives and protect lives. We will continue to deliver on our promise to list medicines recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. During our time in government, the coalition has listed close to 1,500 new drugs on the PBS, representing a health investment of close to $7.5 billion. This investment has enabled thousands of Australians to access medications that, without subsidy, would have cost them well into six figures per annum, at a cost of only $38.80 for general patients or $6.30 for concessional patients. More than 60 new cancer medicines or amended listings have been approved by the coalition government since October 2013, and this includes new treatments for advanced pancreatic cancer, melanoma, advanced breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Our continued investment in the PBS is part of the government's long-term national health plan, which is guaranteeing the future of Medicare and is providing record investment in medical research and hospitals.

This is vitally important to the people of Bennelong, where many of our key pharmaceutical and health companies are located, in the Macquarie Park area. This, however, has not stopped Bill Shorten's girl Kristina Keneally lying to the people of Bennelong about health issues.

Senator Wong: Oh, come on! Seriously? Girl?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS: She has lied about the Eastwood Medicare office—Bill Shorten himself describes her in that way; I am only repeating what he said—she has lied about waiting periods at the Ryde Service Centre and she has lied about bulk-billing rates in Bennelong. If you read the press, Senator Wong, you would read precisely where Bill Shorten referred to her in those terms. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Brockman, a supplementary question.

Senator BROCKMAN ( Western Australia ) ( 14:49 ): Can the minister advise the Senate on how our support for the PBS complements the Turnbull government's broader investment in the health of Australians?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS ( New South Wales Minister for International Development and the Pacific ) ( 14:49 ): Beyond listing close to 1,500 new medications on the PBS, we are investing more than ever in Medicare, with funding going from $23 billion in 2017-18 to $28 billion in 2021. We have also removed Labor's Medicare freeze and have committed $1 billion to restoring the indexation of the Medicare rebate. Contrary to the lies being peddled by Mr Shorten, and being parroted by Ms Keneally, we are delivering record funding for public hospital services. Since 2012-13, funding for hospitals in Bennelong, like Macquarie Hospital and Ryde Hospital, has increased by 66 per cent. This means more hospital services, more doctors and more nurses for the people of Bennelong. Compare this to the fact that waiting times for elective surgery blew out at Ryde Hospital when Ms Keneally was Premier.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Brockman, a final supplementary question.

Senator BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (14:50): Is the minister aware of any risks to the delivery of new medicines on the PBS?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South WalesMinister for International Development and the Pacific) (14:50): When Labor was last in power, they reversed coalition policy to list all medicines approved by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. In February 2011, the Gillard government deferred the listing of seven medicines and vaccines on the PBS and the national immunisation program. Labor also introduced the requirement that all medicines recommended by the PBAC be approved by cabinet prior to listing. Therefore, Bill Shorten and Kristina Keneally need to tell the people of Bennelong the truth: Labor stopped listing medicines approved by the PBAC in an attempt to cut costs. Labor's reckless approach to the PBS will put at risk jobs in all those pharmaceutical companies in Bennelong that are located at Macquarie Park.