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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 41698

Remarks at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre

Photo of Turnbull, Malcolm

Turnbull, Malcolm

Period of Service: 15/09/2015 to 24/08/2018

More information about Turnbull, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/07/2018

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 41698

Location: Melbourne, Victoria

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much Greg - and again I just want to echo what Greg has said.

These are the toughest times that families face. Dealing with cancer, brain cancer, battling complex diseases about which we know too little and for which, despite all of our science, we cannot do enough.

The inspiration that has come from so many heroic families’ struggles, so many heroic children's battles with cancer, has resulted in us establishing the Australian Brain Cancer Mission. Which, as you know, is $105 million fund of which $55 million has been contributed by the Commonwealth and we have already reached - in total with other contributions from the Minderoo Foundation, the Cure for Brain Cancer Foundation and Carrie Bickmore's Beanies for Brain Cancer - we've already reached $92.5 million, so we're well on the way to reaching $105 million.

But today we're announcing that $5 million dollars from that fund is going to establish the zero childhood brain cancer initiative. And that's designed to increase the chances of survival for children with high risk brain cancer.

Now, the work that's done here, the medical research that's done here and around the country, including Michelle, in Sydney and just on the boundaries of my electorate and at an institution with which Lucy and I are very familiar, the Sydney Children's Hospital. The work you do is absolutely essential.

And Peter MacCallum, of course is an extraordinary centre. It's a fantastic institution, the most brilliant, beautiful premises - but the brilliance of the architecture is exceeded only by the brilliance of the researchers and the scientists.

And Sherene, thank you for that fantastic presentation you gave us on CAR T cells. I hope my subsequent advice on taking selfies was a poor return in terms of the education and enlightenment you offered me.

This additional investment will mean that all Australian children with high-risk brain cancer, wherever they live in Australia and wherever they're being treated will have access to the Zero Childhood Cancer Program.

These children, we estimate is around 50 kids a year, will have the opportunity to have a detailed analysis done of their unique brain cancer cells, to identify the treatments that are most likely to kill their specific cancer. It is the precise genetic targeting of the particular cancers, in a particular patient, that enables us to make sure the treatment is the key.

Michelle, when we were announcing the Zero Childhood Cancer Initiative some time ago in Sydney, you made the point that the targeting of treatment for childhood cancers - and of course none more so than brain cancer - is so important, because little children are not as strong and resilient as adults. And the cure, the treatment, has got to be one that is no more toxic than it needs to be and targeted as precisely as possible.

We were talking about treatments that Sherene was explaining how you know, treatments which empower or energise the body's immune system can sometimes result in a lot more being attacked than just the cancer cells - this is the challenge that we face.

So, it’s all about targeting and precision and this personalised treatment offers the greatest possible chance of survival and the highest quality of life.

Now, we're only able to do this of course, because we have a strong economy, we have the strong government revenues that come from a strong economy, and that we've been able to continue to manage the health budget successfully.

And in addition to spending more every year on primary healthcare, on Medicare, on public hospitals - with the new five year agreement with the states and territories - has another $30 billion spending on public hospitals. So we are spending more on every aspect of health care.

But it also means that we can put more into medical research. This is the key to ensuring that we can eliminate childhood cancer. It is the research, the courage, the determination, the brilliance of scientists and researchers around the country that will enable us to eliminate childhood cancer. Which of course is the great objective.

We're also able to bring onto the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme new life saving drugs. Greg announced four just over the weekend, starting on the 1st of August - and I might get you back Greg to talk about Opdivo and the other drugs that you brought on.

But it’s interesting and you Sheree were talking about Kisqali earlier, which is a lifesaving breast cancer drug. That you were the first trial here, in Australia, demonstrating its value. Which then was recognised through our pharmaceutical benefits system and brought on, so it’s now available to all Australians who need it. And of course in an affordable way, thanks to the PBS.

We can only afford to do that because of the strong economy we have.

So Greg having done a brief introduction of me, which I thank you - he’s very kind. Greg perhaps you could say a little bit more about the Australian Brain Cancer Mission?

Where is Dustin? There you are – right behind Greg.

Well you know, it’s great that you’re sitting there, because Dustin your family’s story, Chloe’s heroic but tragic story. And the love and commitment you’ve shown served to inspire all of us, so many of us.

But it inspired us to establish the Australian Brain Cancer Mission and this of course, is a very important part of it.

So we're doing this for every Australian child. We're doing this for children, children of the future, children yet to be born, yet to be conceived.

But in so many ways, Dustin, we're doing it for Chloe.

Transcript 41698