Today’s announcement by the Minister for Health lays bare the Labor Government’s cynical and opportunistic approach to medical research.
Having been presented the findings of the McKeon Review of Health and Medical Research 173 days ago, the Minister waited until 18 days out from polling day to make this funding announcement.
“If Labor was serious about medical research, it would have done more in the last six months than just add ‘Medical Research’ to the Minister’s title,” Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said.
“If Labor was genuine about medical research, the Government would have responded to the McKeon Review and started to implement changes well before an election campaign.
“The Labor Party is playing catch-up. The Coalition was first to respond to the McKeon Review when we announced our medical research policy two months ago.
“Under an Abbott Government, medical research funding will be protected into the future and the research grant system will be simplified and streamlined to make it easier for our researchers to focus on finding cures, rather than filling out paperwork.”
The Coalition has a proud track record on medical research funding. The last Coalition Government increased funding to 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, Tony Abbott announced an additional $905 million for Australian health and research in 2006, and in 2007 provided $485 million in infrastructure grants to medical research facilities. This record level of funding was made possible by the sound economic management of the former Coalition Government.
“Where is Mr Rudd going to find this additional $125 million, given we have a $30 billion deficit and our debt is on track to pass $300 billion by Christmas?” Mr Dutton said.
“Labor simply cannot be trusted on medical research. This is the same Government that in 2011 threatened to cut $400 million from the NHMRC, causing outrage in the sector.”
These are hollow and disingenuous promises coming from an increasingly desperate government.
Medical research has never been a priority for Tanya Plibersek. No matter what games she plays in the final weeks of the election campaign and regardless of what she may change her title to, she can’t run from her dismal record.
Media Contact: Jen Cochrane 0434 277 865