30 January - A Coalition government will protect funding of Australia’s medical research.
We recognise that funding for medical research is the best long-term investment a government can make in the health of the Australian people. In terms of a cost-benefit analysis, consistent long-term funding of medical research lifts national productivity, improves quality of life and life expectancy and takes pressure off the hospital system.
Medical research, as part of the Education and Research pillar, is an essential part of the Coalition’s plan to build a more diverse, world-class five pillar economy.
Australia is a recognised leader in medical research. In the past decade alone, Australia’s health and medical research sector has produced three Nobel Prize winners.
Australia also generates between three and four per cent of refereed research publications in health, despite having only 0.3 per cent of the world’s population.
While Budget conditions are tough and the Coalition is committed to returning the Budget to surplus, we also recognise that funding of medical research needs to be consistent and ongoing to ensure Australia does not hollow out its capabilities in this field.
Our commitment to protect medical research funding continues on the record of the last Coalition Government. The last Coalition Government increased funding for the National Health and Medical Research Council five-fold from $131 million in 1995-96 to $715 million in 2010-11 after our funding commitments had been implemented.
As Health Minister, I announced an additional $905 million for Australian health and research in 2006 and in 2007, provided $485 million in grants to medical research facilities.
This commitment builds on the Coalition’s announcement late last year to provide $35 million to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Clinical Trial Network for type 1 diabetes research.
Our commitment to protecting the funding of medical research is in contrast to Labor’s previous attempt to cut medical research funding and its current cuts to health funding. Labor is cutting $1.6 billion from state hospitals and nearly $4 billion from private health insurance over the next four years. It has also cut $1 billion a year from dental care by closing down the Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme and at least $550 million will be cut from the Better Access mental health programme.
Today’s announcement is part of the Coalition’s plan to build a strong and prosperous economy and a safe and secure Australia.
The Coalition also awaits the imminent release of the McKeon Review to help inform future development of our approach to a strong and sustainable medical research sector.