Cheaper medicine for over 500,000 patients

Cheaper medicine is on the way for more than 500,000 patients from October 1, with price reductions for common scripts and new medicines added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), in some cases saving over $100,000 per patient.

Medicines to treat lung cancer, lymphoblastic and acute leukaemia, and nausea associated with chemotherapy will now be available to patients on the PBS from tomorrow for just $40.30 per script, or $6.50 with a concession card.

A further $390 million in mandated price reductions across 175 medicine brands will also flow through to patients from tomorrow, making medicines more affordable.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Coalition would continue to list medicine on the PBS as quickly as possible.

“Our strong budget management means we can give Australian patients with access to life-saving and life-changing medicines quicker than ever before, without raising taxes,” the Prime Minister said.

“This stands in stark contrast to Labor whose failed budget management drove the budget into deep deficit, forcing them to stop listing lifesaving and life changing medicines.”

“From tomorrow, some of our most unwell Australians, many battling cancer, will receive a significant boost in the fight for their health.”

The new or extending PBS listings from tomorrow include:

  • Tecentriq® and Avastin®,will be extended on the PBS to include first line treatment of patients with stage IV metastatic non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer. Without PBS subsidy it would cost patients more than $11,400 per script (around 16 scripts per course of treatment); or more than $189,100 per course of treatment. An average of 755 patients per year (for six years) could benefit from this listing.
  • Besponsa®,will be extended on the PBS to include patients with relapsed or refractory Philadelphia chromosome positive (B-CELL precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia). Without PBS subsidy, patients would pay more than $44,500 per script (around 3 scripts per course of treatment); or more than $122,900 per course of treatment without subsidised access through the PBS. An average of 16 patients per year (for six years) could benefit from this listing.
  • Blincyto®,will be extended on the PBS to include patients with relapsed or refractory Philadelphia chromosome positive (B-CELL precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia). Without PBS subsidy, patients would pay more than more than $74,900 per script (around 2 scripts per course of treatment); or more than $122,900 per course of treatment. An average of 16 patients per year (for six years) could benefit from this listing.
  • Apotex®, will be made available through the PBS for the treatment of patients with Nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Without PBS subsidy, patients would pay more than $80 per script (around 1 script per course of treatment). In 2018, 7,269 patients accessed a comparable treatment for this condition.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said every six months, prices on a range of PBS medicines are also reduced as a result of the Government’s Price Disclosure Policy.

“With these price reductions, a trip to the pharmacist will be cheaper for thousands of Australians, and more life-saving drugs can be listed on the PBS,” Minister Hunt said.

Fifteen common medicines – sold as 175 medicine brands will be cheaper for general (non-concessional) patients, and these include:

  • Pregabalin: around 208,000 patients per year who have seizures or nerve pain will now pay $28.27 per script for 75 mg capsules, a saving of up to $5.11 per script
  • Ezetimibe: around 60,000 patients per year with high cholesterol levels will now pay $33.86 per script for 10 mg tablets, a saving of up to $6.44 per script
  • Ezetimibe with Simvastatin: about 245,000 patients with high cholesterol levels will now pay $37.77 per script for 10 mg tablets, a saving of up to $2.53 per script.

Every medicine was recommended to the PBS by the independent expert Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. By law the Federal Government cannot list a new medicine without a positive recommendation from the PBAC.

The Government’s commitment to ensuring that Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, is rock solid. This includes continuing to cut the cost of medicines for patients through the PBS safety net.

From 1 January 2020 the threshold to receive free or further discounted medicines through the PBS will be lowered by 12 scripts for pensioners and concession card holders and the equivalent of 2 scripts for non-concession card holders.

Since 2013, the Morrison Government has listed over 2,100 new or amended items on the PBS.

This represents an average of around 31 listings per month – or one each day – at an overall cost of around $10.6 billion.

Our plan for a strong economy continues to deliver record funding for essential health services that saves lives.

City invests in tourism as visitors, expenditure soars

With visitation to the city and tourism expenditure soaring by almost 60 per cent during the past five years, the City of Newcastle is delivering on its commitment to grow the visitor economy.

A new City Guide has been launched to provide a modern tourism offering to the five million domestic and international visitors spending time in our local government area each year.
guide8.jpgThe City Guide, along with a new Visit Newcastle website, are part of a suite of projects being completed by the City’s dedicated tourism team to promote the attractions and experiences we have to offer.

The launch follows our recent announcement that the City will convert the former Civic Station into a modern Visitor Information Centre, due to open in the first half of 2020.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said tourism has a vital role to play in Newcastle’s transformation into a smart, liveable and sustainable global city.

“Newcastle is a vibrant and experience-rich destination loved by both domestic and international visitors,” she said.

“The city’s tourism industry is booming, attracting 20 per cent more visitors in the past 12 months compared to the same time last year, while the longer five-year trend has seen visitor numbers rise by more than 58 per cent.

“Those who chose to come to Newcastle are also staying longer and spending more, with expenditure in the 12 months to March this year worth more than $1.1 billion to the local economy.

“City of Newcastle is committed to investing in projects such as the new City Guide and Visit Newcastle website, which will enhance the visitor experience and provide inspiration for travellers looking for their next day-trip or holiday destination.”

The free Newcastle City Guide will be widely available at businesses, attractions and events across the region, as well as at visitor information centres across the State.

The experience-driven brochure showcases the activities and precincts available across our beautiful coastal city, while the Visit Newcastle website will deliver a more intuitive, user-friendly experience.

Tourism figures compiled for the local government area by Tourism Research Australia highlight a positive trend in Newcastle’s visitor economy during the past five years, with increases across domestic day-trippers (62.3%), domestic overnight visitors (54.9%), and international travellers (16%).

The value of the tourism economy has also expanded significantly, experiencing a five-year increase of 57.6 per cent to be worth $1.127 billion in the 12 months to March 2019.

The five-year figures were compiled from the year ending March 2015, through to the year ending March 2019.

The Newcastle City Guide is being rolled out now while the new Visit Newcastle website will be launched in the coming weeks.

FAST-TRACKED TAFE NSW FACILITIES FOR MEADOWBANK EDUCATION PRECINCT

The NSW Government will fast-track delivery of the State’s first technology-focused TAFE NSW campus by 12 months with thousands of students expected to benefit.

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the NSW Government is investing in a world-class education precinct at Meadowbank.

“I am proud to announce the delivery of the new digital technology hub at TAFE NSW Meadowbank will be accelerated by 12 months to match the construction schedule of the two new schools,” Mr Lee said. “This means a new primary school, a new high school and new TAFE NSW facilities will all be delivered at the same time.”

Mr Lee said technology was at the forefront of the revitalised TAFE site, transforming training delivery to be more digitally interactive and industry focussed.

“The new industry standard training facilities will enhance the capacity of TAFE NSW to deliver technology-focussed, specialist training in emerging ICT areas such as cyber-security.

“The new state-of-the-art facilities will equip students with the job-ready skills employers are calling for – with industry collaboration and a digital focus embedded into the design.”

Member for Ryde Victor Dominello said fast-tracking the project and aligning construction timelines was great news for the Ryde community.

“Australia’s Silicon Valley is in our own backyard so it makes sense to have a technology focused TAFE in Meadowbank,” Mr Dominello said.

“Ryde is being transformed into an education and employment powerhouse and this new TAFE will prepare students for the jobs of the future.”

TAFE NSW will lodge a State Significant Development Application for the Multi-Trades and Digital Technology Hub in mid-October following consultation. The new TAFE NSW facilities are scheduled to be open alongside the school in 2022.

NSW GOVERNMENT DELIVERING AN AFFORDABLE, RELIABLE AND CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE

Minister for Energy Matt Kean has today announced the next stage in the $75 million NSW Emerging Energy Program, which encourages private sector investment in cutting edge large-scale electricity and storage projects through feasibility and capital grants.

Feasibility grants worth a total of $7.1 million have been awarded to 10 electricity projects to help get them shovel ready so that we can meet the States future energy needs. These projects are spread across seven locations in NSW, including Broken Hill, Yass and Armidale.

21 projects have also been shortlisted to receive capital funding to assist with the construction of on-demand electricity. The shortlisted projects include over 700 megawatts of on-demand electricity capacity across six technologies, including pumped hydro, gas, biogas, solar thermal, virtual power plants and batteries. The successful recipients will be announced in the first half of 2020.

“The NSW Government is committed to delivering affordable, reliable and cleaner power for NSW. The Emerging Energy Program does just that,” Mr Kean said.

“AEMO’s latest report identified that NSW is well placed to handle the summers up until Liddell’s retirement in 2023 but we’re planning for the future, looking at how we can harness tomorrow’s technology today by encouraging private capital to build the 21st century grid,” Mr Kean said.

“These projects will help show the way for new technology, making it easier for other projects to come online, increase competition and put downward pressure on prices,” Mr Kean said.

“The transformation of our electricity system is going to drive an energy construction boom, as the projects awarded feasibility grants could see almost $2 billion in private investment,” Mr Kean said.

Successful applicants can work with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for finance through its Dispatchable Power Program.

For more information about the Emerging Energy Program visit: energy.nsw.gov.au/emerging-energy

MORE THAN $81 MILLION FOR NSW SAFE AND SECURE WATER PROJECTS

The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is investing more than $81 million into 30 projects across 21 councils in regional NSW to improve water quality and security.

The Safe and Secure water security projects include the installation of an artesian bore, the construction of an off-stream water storage facility, and improving or constructing sewage treatment plants and reservoirs.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said NSW communities depend on access to clean water, and wastewater infrastructure that meets environmental and health standards.

“This drought is outside the history books, while we continue to invest in emergency water infrastructure we must ensure we are maintaining our regional water infrastructure and investing in the future of our communities,” Mrs Pavey said.

“The Program prioritises key water infrastructure projects – from local drought backup systems through to new or upgraded dams to secure water supplies for our regional communities.

“The NSW Government will continue to work with local councils to provide water infrastructure that improves the lives of over 1.9 million people living in more than 500 regional NSW communities.”

While local councils are the water utility provider for their communities, the State Government will continue to help them where we can in getting through this difficult time.

The Safe and Secure Water Program is a $1 billion regional infrastructure co-funding program established in 2017 under the NSW Government’s Restart NSW Fund.

Since the establishment of the Safe & Secure Water Program in June 2017, the NSW Government has committed more than $680 million to 111 projects.

More information about the Safe and Secure Water Program is available here.

FROM BRICK PIT TO PUBLIC PARK: NEW GREEN SPACE OPENS IN HOMEBUSH

A new 2.5 hectare park at Powells Creek has opened today, transforming an unused corridor in Sydney’s west into a new recreation and green space for the local community.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said Ismay Reserve, located next to the New M4 just north of Parramatta Road to Pomeroy Street at Homebush, is another example of the NSW Government’s commitment to creating new green open spaces.

“This is the first new park to open as part of the WestConnex Legacy project and unlocks a previously inaccessible area for the local community that will be enjoyed for many years to come,” Mr Stokes said.

“Almost 6,000 homes are within 10 minutes’ walk of this fantastic new park, which has something for everyone, including a children’s playground, barbeque facilities, ping pong tables, exercise stations and even a futsal court.

“There’s also a new shared pedestrian and cycle path between Parramatta Road and Pomeroy Street that connects to Sydney Olympic Park to make it easier for people to get outside and enjoy the outdoors.”

WestConnex worked closely with Strathfield Council and the Greater Sydney Commission to create Ismay Reserve, which is located on the site of a former brick pit.

About 160 trees have also been planted in the new park, with another 5,500 trees to be added to the local tree canopy as part of the New M4 project.

More green space will be delivered through WestConnex than any other urban road project in Australia’s history, with more than 18 hectares of new open space to be created in Sydney’s inner west

GOVERNMENT PILOT TO BOOST SMALL BUSINESS

A new NSW Government pilot program will mean it’s easier for small businesses to win work from their local council – boosting local economies and communities.

The Local Procurement pilot program – part of the NSW Government’s Making Business Easier offering – aims to increase direct contact between small businesses and councils by cutting red tape and simplifying the tender process.

Minister for Small Business Damien Tudehope said the six month pilot would enable small businesses to operate on a more level playing field when securing contracts with their local council.

“NSW Councils spend significant funds on goods and services each year but many small businesses couldn’t compete with larger competitors for contracts.

“A toolkit has been developed to help small businesses win council contracts, while providing tips to local councils on how they can become more small business friendly.

“This is a great opportunity for local businesses to tender for local government work and boost local economies,” Mr Tudehope said.

In June, the NSW Government changed the Local Government Act 1993 to increase the threshold for tenders from $150,000 to $250,000, which will provide more opportunities for councils to engage businesses directly without a tender process.

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said the Local Procurement pilot was a great example of how state and local governments were working together to help small businesses reach their full potential.

“Several councils including Georges River Council, Eurobodalla Shire Council, Campbelltown City Council and Central Coast Council have already expressed interest in the program.

“I encourage all NSW local councils to get involved in this fantastic program and see more of their contracts secured by their local small businesses,” Mrs Hancock said.

For more information go to www.smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au/local-procurement

WATER PRESSURE RETURNS IN THE GREAT ARTESIAN BASIN

The NSW Government is investing $13 million over the next four years to continue their ‘Cap & Pipe the Bores Program’ in the Great Artesian Basin, work that has seen water pressure in the area increase for the first time in decades.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the program spans across 4.2 million hectares, an area roughly the size of the land between Sydney and Cowra, and is currently saving 76 gigalitres of water per year.

“In 20 years we have saved 1,100 gigalitres of water from this program, or the equivalent of two Sydney Harbours,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Bore water is essential for many farms and towns, helping to reduce demand on our drought-ravaged rivers and supporting a population of over 200,000 people.

“Before the program began, the Great Artesian Basin was being tapped by 1,400 bores, many of them decades old, with around 95 per cent of the water lost through evaporation. This significantly reduced water pressure across the Basin, resulting in many bores ceasing to flow.”

Under the NSW ‘Cap and Pipe the Bores Program’ leaky bores are being fixed, open collection ponds are replaced with storage tanks, open water channels replaced with pipes, and disused bores are being capped and closed.

“Since the program’s inception, 18,000km of piping has been installed, enough to go from Sydney to Perth and back again – twice, and 10,000km of bore drains removed, which is enough to go half way along the Great Wall of China,” Mrs Pavey said.

“The NSW Government is investing a further $13 million to continue this important work and ensuring only the water needed is being drawn from the basin, safeguarding the long term sustainability of the Great Artesian Basin.”

The ongoing, long-term benefits of the program include:

  • Increased resilience of pastoral enterprises to drought and climate change;
  • Partnerships between landholders, government, industry and communities;
  • Investment, employment and opportunities for economic growth in rural communities;
  • Enhanced productivity of pastoral industries;
  • Improved water quality for stock and domestic use;
  • Improved sustainability, security and management of Basin water;
  • Increased water pressure in the Basin;
  • Support for endangered species at Basin springs.

Further detail on the NSW ‘Cap and Pipe the Bores Program’ can be found at: https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/water/basins-catchments/gab/cap-pipe-the-bore

SA Govt Murray RC response is a defence of Barnaby Joyce, and sells out the River

The South Australian Government has ignored the most damning elements of the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission in its response finally released yesterday, the Greens say.

“After nine months, the South Australian Government’s response to the SA Royal Commission is a complete cop-out,” Greens Spokesperson for Water and Senator for SA, Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“This response from the SA Water Minister says very little and shows a complete disregard for the scientific warnings over the health of the River.

“Minister Spiers has ignored the biggest problem facing the management of the Murray-Darling, that being the health of river has been compromised by political and corporate interests.

“Too much water is still being taken out of the river system for irrigation and not enough has been returned as the science requires to keep it alive.

“The Minister’s rejection of water buy backs, in favour of spending public money on bogus ‘efficiency’ and ‘infrastructure’ projects – even for the 450GL promised to SA – shows he has rejected the key recommendations of both the SA Royal Commission and the Productivity Commission.

“The Minister has backed Barnaby Joyce, over SA and the River. Without reinstating the water buy-backs, scrapped by Mr Joyce, SA will never get the water and the River will not survive.

“It seems the SA Government has drunk the Federal Government’s kool-aid when it comes to what actually needs to be done to save the River and the communities that depends on it.

“This dereliction of duty to protect the River and South Australians who rely on it is shameful and only adds weight to the case for a Federal Royal Commission to hold all those responsible for killing the Murray-Darling to account.”

Backing Our Farmers and Drought Affected Communities

Farmers and their communities will have access to more support with the Coalition Government announcing it will provide more funding, cut red tape and increase services.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a new support package will deliver nearly $100 million to drought-hit communities, which is on top of more than $7 billion in drought support funding already provided by the Government.

“Supporting drought affected communities remains our Government’s most urgent priority,” the Prime Minister said.

“I know that things are only getting harder for many farmers and rural communities, and that’s why we are taking further action and providing even more support.

“We’ve been in constant contact with farmers and businesses, and we’re using their feedback to keep improving our response.

“As I’ve said before, this isn’t set and forget. We need to keep listening and keep taking action.

“We know we can’t make it rain, but we must keep finding ways to do everything we can to make life just a bit easier and remove some of the burden. That’s why our Government is providing more money to help people with bills, more money for counselling and more money to local councils.

“We’ve got to get more cash into these communities and cut more red tape, making it easier to access support.

“I will do everything in my power to ease the burden on farmers and their communities. That’s our Government’s promise.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the package of measures would provide an immediate economic stimulus at the local level as well as employment for people whose work has been affected by drought.

“We are delivering $33.42 million to resume the Drought Community Support Initiative, which will deliver up to $3000 to eligible farming households experiencing hardship due to drought,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“And we are providing a $13 million extension to the Drought Community Programme to deliver support at the local government level where it counts.

“Thirteen Local Government Areas will be provided up to $1 million for local infrastructure and drought relief products.”

Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said targeted relief followed careful assessment of the current challenges farmers were facing.

“We know that FHA is a vital hand-up for farmers in times of need—but the Independent Review of Farm Household Allowance told us it could be improved,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Farming families have told me that the FHA program does not currently treat them as business owners and places a real burden on farmers already doing it tough. This was reflected in the review.

“Today we are announcing a radical simplification of the FHA application process and key settings.

“We will remove the requirement for business income reconciliation, change the time limit on payment from four years in total to four out of every ten years, simplify the assets test, recognise agistment as being part of primary production income, and redesign the application process. For the first time, couples will be able to apply for the payment using just one application.

“These changes will make FHA quicker and easier to access, better reflect the nature of farm businesses, and to acknowledge that farmers may experience more than one period of hardship in their lifetime.

“Some of these changes will require amendments to legislation, but through Centrelink we will implement as many of the changes to the application process immediately.”

Minister McKenzie also announced today an injection of $740,000 of contingency funding to five Rural Financial Counselling Service providers who are experiencing pressure from increased demand for their services.

Minister for Drought David Littleproud said the Coalition Government was delivering a comprehensive suite of support measures to farmers in hardship.

“This shows our commitment to stay flexible and respond as needed,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Today’s announcement further strengthens our drought response which includes concessional loans, farm management deposits, tax breaks, and mental health support.

“The government is already providing more than $7 billion in assistance and concessional loans to support those affected by drought.”

“This shows the Coalition Government’s commitment and belief in hard working farming families.”