Latest Media Releases
NATIONAL BUSHFIRE RECOVERY AGENCY
6 January 2020
The Federal Government will establish a new agency with an initial $2 billion for a national bushfire recovery fund to coordinate a national response to rebuild communities and livelihoods after the devastating fire-front has passed.
The Prime Minister said the National Bushfire Recovery Agency would be funded with an initial $2 billion to ensure the families, farmers and business owners hit by these unprecedented bushfires would get the support they needed as they recover.
“It’s a long road ahead and we will be with these communities every step of the way as they rebuild,” the Prime Minister said.
“While the immediate focus for our emergency services and the Australian Defence Force is keeping people safe and defending against the fires hitting so many areas, we also need to be ready to hit the ground in communities where the fire-front has passed to help them rebuild.
“The Agency will ensure the work of state and territory governments is being supported and act as a ‘one stop shop’ central team to coordinate the response. We will do whatever it takes.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the initial $2 billion investment for the Agency and its recovery work would be on top of the existing disaster recovery payments and allowances which have so far seen more than $100 million worth of assistance flowing through to families, small businesses and farmers.
“An unprecedented joint effort with the states, territories and local government will be required to assist with the recovery, rebuilding and future resilience of these communities,” the Treasurer said.
“Our initial $2 billion investment help to get communities back on their feet by assisting with restocking and replenishing, rebuilding roads and telecommunications infrastructure, mental health support, attracting tourists back to the regions and helping restore the local environment and impacted wildlife.”
The Agency will be led by Andrew Colvin APM AOM and will be modelled off the North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency established following the 2019 North Queensland floods, as well as the experience of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority created after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
The Agency’s key tasks include:
Build on the effective working relationships with state, territory and local governments, including their recovery and reconstruction bodies, and to work with stakeholders in bushfire affected communities, and relevant Commonwealth agencies to inform and integrate recovery and rebuild activities
Ensuring affected communities have ready access to meaningful support and all available services
Providing advice and recommendations to Government on the economic and social impacts of bushfire on affected communities, in consultation with relevant agencies across all levels of government;
Developing and coordinating the delivery of a long-term plan for the recovery, rebuild and resilience of bushfire affected communities
Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Commonwealth would continue to step up to do whatever it takes.
"We will continue to respond to changing conditions while these fires affect communities across the country,” Minister Littleproud said.
“We will help people on the fire front and people that have been evacuated from affected areas and the ADF is also helping deliver supplies such as food, fuel and medical assistance.
“When the rebuilding begins, the Commonwealth will be there to make sure communities are well-resourced.”
The Agency will work within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and report to Minister Littleproud. Funding for the Agency is in addition to the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements that have been activated in all bushfire affected areas already with $25 million in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance flowing to communities. The Commonwealth and NSW Governments have already committed $86 million for the recovery effort in that state and Category C assistance between the Commonwealth and Victoria is also expected to flow shortly. The funding is in addition to the Australian Government’s support for Volunteer firefighters who are eligible for up to $6,000 per person to provide for lost income.
People affected by the bushfires can claim disaster payments by calling Services Australia (Centrelink) on 180 22 66 and find more information at www.humanservices.gov.au/disaster. As soon as it is safe to do so, Mobile Service Centres will head into affected regions to assist with all Government payment services, including disaster payments.
New Hope For Breast Cancer Patients With Key Drug Added To PBS
5 January 2020
Australians living with advanced breast cancer now have access to an important new treatment option, with the Morrison Government listing a life-changing new medicine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
On 1 January 2020, Verzenio® (abemaciclib) was listed on the PBS for the first time. It treats non-premenopausal patients with advanced hormone receptor positive human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 negative breast cancer.
Verzenio® is a new treatment option for approximately 3,000 patients with this type of breast cancer.
Without the subsidy, patients would pay up to $55,500 a year to access this medicine. As a result of this listing on the PBS, they will now only pay $41 per script, or, for concessional patients, just $6.60 per script.
It is estimated more than 19,000 women and 160 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia in 2020.
Australia has one of the highest survival rates for breast cancer in the world, with the five-year survival rate at almost 91 per cent.
The Morrison Government stands with Australians who are fighting breast cancer. We recognise how difficult this diagnosis can be for patients, their families and entire communities.
Since 2013, the Government has approved close to 2,300 new or amended listings on the PBS. This represents an average of about 30 new or amended PBS listings per month – or one each day – at an overall investment by the Government of $10.9 billion since 2013.
Each of these listings has been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).
The Morrison Government’s commitment to ensuring Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.
We are able to provide unprecedented levels of support to health and medical research because of our strong economic management.
Important Changes to Improve the Quality of Aged Care
1 January 2020
The quality of aged care provided to senior Australians will be significantly strengthened as Government measures come into effect today.
From 1 January 2020, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will be bolstered with additional functions and responsibilities to safeguard the sector into the future, supported by a series of targeted investments aimed at improving compliance and quality.
In addition, new restrictions for prescriptions of the drug Risperidone today mark a tangible step toward reducing the level of chemical restraint used in aged care.
The changes support the Government’s initial response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Interim Report.
Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck said while important Government reforms – including the development of a new funding model – would continue, waiting for the final recommendations from the Royal Commission was vital to ensure long-term sustainable change.
“As the Government has said all along, with all matters of quality of care, investment in compliance and preventive actions will be undertaken as and when required,” Minister Colbeck said
“But it is important that the key long term challenges investigated by the Royal Commission are explored thoroughly to ensure the development of a sturdy response and recommendations for future reform.”
The additional functions and responsibilities for the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission are aimed at creating a one-stop shop for aged care regulation, while strengthening regulatory oversight of the sector – a recommendation of the Carnell Paterson Review.
The passage of the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Act 2019 resulted in the transfer of aged care regulatory functions of the Secretary of the Department of Health to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner from today.
The additional functions include the approval of aged care providers, compliance and enforcement action for non-compliance and the administration of approved providers’ compulsory reporting of assaults.
Meanwhile, Minister Colbeck said restrictions for the drug Risperidone, effective from today, would now require doctors to apply for additional approval if the medication is required for more than a 12-week period.
“The Royal Commission identified an over-reliance on chemical restraint as a priority concern in aged care and the Government has taken this action among other measures to ensure senior Australians receive the care they expect and deserve,” Minister Colbeck said.
Education resources for prescribers are also being developed to support the appropriate use of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines in residential aged care, he said.
The Government is also continuing its record funding for aged care in 2019-2020 through a further $623.9 million investment in a series of targeted measures, including the Government’s $537 million response to the Interim Report in November which included 10,000 new home care packages, and other measures to ensure quality in the sector.
Minister Colbeck said the investments to date represented a significant down payment by the Government on the key areas identified as requiring action by the Commission as it awaits the recommendations to be contained in the Royal Commission’s Final Report, to be delivered by November 12.
Helping More Australians Enter the Property Market Sooner
1 January 2020
From today, eligible first home buyers will be able to apply for a guaranteed loan as part of the Morrison Coalition Government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.
The Scheme provides a guarantee that will allow eligible first home buyers to purchase a modest home with a deposit of as little as five per cent.
Delivering on an election commitment to help make home ownership a reality for more Australians sooner, the Scheme will support up to 10,000 guaranteed loans each financial year.
Eligible first home buyers can apply for a guaranteed loan directly from one of the 27 participating lenders.
The Scheme has been warmly welcomed by major industry peak bodies, and the composition of the initial panel of participating lenders reflects the industry’s confidence in the Morrison Coalition Government’s plan to assist first home buyers.
Importantly, all participating lenders have committed not to charge eligible customers higher interest rates than equivalent customers outside of the Scheme.
The Scheme has also been deliberately designed to ensure strong representation of smaller lenders. This will promote competition between the major and non-major lenders, and ensure the Scheme has broad geographic reach, including in regional and remote communities.
Further information about the Scheme is available on the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation’s website (www.nhfic.gov.au/what-we-do/fhlds/), including online tools to assist prospective first home buyers determine their potential eligibility and identify the relevant property price threshold that will apply to any potential purchases.
The full list of initial participating lenders is:
Major bank lenders
National Australia Bank Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Australian Military Bank
Auswide Bank Bank Australia
Bank of us Bendigo Bank
Beyond Bank Australia
Community First Credit Union CUA
Gateway Bank G&C Mutual Bank
Indigenous Business Australia
Mortgageport MyState Bank
People’s Choice Credit Union Police Bank (including the Border Bank and Bank of Heritage Isle) P&N Bank
Queensland Country Credit Union Regional Australia Bank
Sydney Mutual Bank and Endeavour Mutual Bank (divisions of Australian Mutual Bank Ltd)
Teachers Mutual Bank Limited (including Firefighters Mutual Bank, Health Professionals Bank, Teachers Mutual Bank and UniBank) The Mutual Bank
WAW Credit Union
GOVERNMENT SWITCHES ON FASTER PAYMENTS FOR BUSINESSES
1 January 2020
Australian businesses will have improved cash flow and be better off under the Government’s new five-day e-Invoicing payment policy, which came into effect today.
Last year the Government announced that from 1 January 2020, federal agencies will start paying e-Invoices within five days or pay interest on any late payments.
Faster payments will help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to prosper by ensuring they are paid in a timely manner as well as delivering significant benefits and efficiencies to suppliers and the Government by reducing transaction costs and handling errors.
The five-day e-Invoicing payment policy applies to contracts valued up to $1 million, where a supplier and a Commonwealth agency both use the internationally established framework for delivering and receiving invoices in an electronic form.
This change comes at a time when SMEs are supplying a greater share of goods and services to government.
The latest procurement figures revealed a 29.1 per cent increase since 2017–18 in the value of federal government contracts going to SMEs.
The overall value of small business contracts with the Federal Government has also increased from $3.3 billion in 2016–17 to $6.3 billion in 2018–19.
The Government will continue to prioritise e-Invoicing adoption across Commonwealth agencies in 2020 to deliver better outcomes for businesses and agencies alike and urges big businesses to follow its lead.
SMEs perform an important role in Australia’s economy and our Government will always consider their best interests.
More information on the new five-day payment terms for e‑Invoicing is on the Department of Finance’s website.
Earlier Access to Cheaper Medicines for 1.6 million Australians
1 January 2020
The Morrison Government has delivered on its election commitment, significantly lowering the threshold for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Safety Net from 1 January 2020.
This means from today, more than 1.6 million concessional and general patients will get earlier access each year to free or significantly cheaper PBS medicines.
The PBS Safety Net eases the financial burden on Australians who spend significant amounts on PBS medicines, such as people with chronic conditions.
Once people reach the safety net threshold, they can apply to get free or discounted PBS medications for the remainder of the calendar year.
The safety net thresholds have been lowered from:
$390.00 to $316.80 for concessional patients.
$1550.70 to $1486.80 for general patients.
The changes mean concessional patients will need to get 12 fewer PBS scripts filled in a year in order to reach the PBS Safety Net, and two fewer scripts for general patients.
These changes are only possible because of the Morrison Governments strong economic management.