SKY NEWS ON THE HOUR, PERTH
SUNDAY, 1 MAY 2022
KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: We’ve got Mark Butler with us now, the Shadow Health Minister. When you look at this announcement today on the PBS, $12.50, did you nudge up $2.50 after the Government announced a $10 reduction yesterday?
MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGEING: You’re such a cynic Kieran.
GILBERT: Am I right?
BUTLER: We’ve been talking to patient groups and to the Community Pharmacy sector for some time now, and I think there’s a really strong case from a cost of living perspective, that the price of medicines for general patients is just too high, but there’s also a really compelling health reason for this because we know from ABS stats as well as statistics from the sector itself, that hundreds of thousands of Australians are going without the medicines their doctors say they need. So there are obvious health implications for that, productivity implications in terms of people’s ability to participate. We worked on this with the Community Pharmacy sector and with patient groups for months now, looked at it very, very closely, got it costed, and it’s a commitment that we’ve been intending to make for some time.
ASHLEIGH GILLON, HOST: The pharmacy groups though were saying that it really had to be slashed in half. They were pushing for the $20 number, that was the golden number for them, they were saying the economies really stack up then in terms of the hospital admissions going down because people can’t afford their medications, and that’s why a lot of people end up in hospital as you know. Do you have ambitions to go further, because the Pharmacy Guild were saying that it really had to be further than what you’ve gone for.
BUTLER: This is a very big cut, it’s only been announced in the last couple of hours, we’ll continue to make the case for that. I’m aware that the Community Pharmacy sector wanted the price more than halved, and we’ve looked at that very closely. This, I think, is a very substantial commitment we’re making right now, it will make a real difference to people’s household budgets in a really critical area, healthcare, but will also make a very real difference to people’s health outcomes.
ANDREW CLENNELL, HOST: No mention, or not much mention, of COVID in that speech. Everyone wants to be past COVID, unfortunately we’re not. Do you think we’ll end up having a fourth booster? Where do you think, if you get into government, we’ll go in terms of how we treat COVID from now on?
BUTLER: I think everyone does want to put COVID in the rear vision mirror, it’s not there yet, we still have very high case numbers compared to other developed countries. I’ve had it in the last couple of weeks myself, we’re still having, tragically, several dozen people die on most days, and we’ve got to do better in some areas. The booster rates simply aren’t good enough around the country I don’t think, compared to the extraordinary efforts people made to get the first and second doses. I’ve said for some time, I don’t think there’s enough energy coming out of the Federal Government to encourage people to get those third doses. Because we know how important those third doses are, particularly against this Omicron variant. So as much as we’d like to see this thing put behind us, there are still things we need to do to protect the community, particularly to protect the most vulnerable in our community and that fourth dose for aged care residents, for older Australians, is a critical piece of work we still need to push through on.
GILBERT: Mark Butler, appreciate your time, thank you. Andrew Clennell, Ashleigh Gillon, great to be with you today here in Perth, and thank you for your company. Here at the Labor Party Campaign Launch for 2022.
MEDIA CONTACT: LABOR CAMPAIGN MEDIA (02) 9165 8212