Decision Maker

Catherine King

  • Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development

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Petitioning Scott Morrison, Michael McCormack, Catherine King

Keep Virgin Australia In The Skies

Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison,  In Australia, we are lucky to live within a diverse culture with beautiful and vast plains. These spread out across our great country. Unlike other nations, we rely a lot on airlines to provide us with transportation to get around. These trips offer us valuable connections with family, friends, and the opportunity to see and experience unique landmarks, while also providing links to keep our economy moving forward. Since government-imposed restrictions have encouraged people not to fly, we have seen a dramatic fall in demand for air transport. Many will stay home to flatten the curve of COVID-19. We understand that this is important not only for our nations health but the economy in the future. We also know that these are challenging times for people. One of the things we take for granted in this great nation is the viability and competitive nature of our airlines. We are lucky to have two full-service carriers that provide competition and value to Australian travellers and contribute to tourism. One of those is Virgin Australia. Virgin Australia began as Virgin Blue. It took ten years for this airline to compete with its competitor in the full-service category. During this time of development, we saw many innovations introduced to the benefit of the consumer and economy. We have not seen this before, even with the former Australian carrier that folded in March 2002. Virgin Australia has helped: Over 25 million people travel a year. Contribute over $11 billion dollars a year in tourism, which supports over 600,000 people in jobs. Operate to 39 destinations under its domestic and regional airline brand. Provide access to over 450 worldwide destinations through its virtual network Offer travel choice and value for the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, North America and Asia routes. Employ over 10,000 Australians. Hold a ~37% share in the domestic market and put pressure on the competition to introduce two low-cost carriers. Deliver efficiency as recognised with most-on time departure airline for 2018-2019.   By getting people to their destination, with least likely airline to cancel your flight in 2019. Community partners including the Starlight Children's Foundation, Greening Australia, Salvation Army, Oz Harvest and many more. Support thousands of more jobs and sectors indirectly.  This company has also helped to provide innovation and value in this nation, including: A 37% reduction in airfares since operating. The first successful trial of sustainable fuels at Airports in Australia. The world's first government-certified carbon offset program. The first Australian airline to provide Wi-Fi for guests via LA. The first Australian airline to allow comfort devices on board. The first Australian airline to offer online web check-in for guests. A leading business product for government and corporate Australia in domestic travel. A unique and diverse brand culture that focuses on value for leisure and corporate travelers. Voted as one of the world's top 20 safest carriers around the globe to travel with ( among other awards for Best Cabin Crew for three years in a row and Best Business Class for 2017 and 2018.  We know from history that without a competitive aviation industry, many people in our country will not be able to enjoy these valuable connections, particularly in regional communities such as Albury, Mackay, Townsville, Port Macquarie, Mildura, Alice Springs and Darwin. We also know that from history a monopoly benefits no one. It gives too much power to one carrier. This monopoly leads to less innovation and higher airfares for many Australians. Moreover, the idea that another airline will be able to compete and offer the same level of service at this challenging economic time presents an argument that many aviation experts agree is flawed. We know that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) takes 12 months, sometimes years to approve new airline operators to serve a country. We know too that would require a substantial capital investment, which at this time is unlikely to be provided from the private sector—also, the incredible cost and logistics of employee and asset displacement and reallocation. For this reason, we sign this petition to urge you to: Support Virgin Australia by offering the industry assistance it needs, such as a loan which it will pay back in 2-3 years to keep running as Australia's second-largest airline. Or to provide Virgin Australia with a guarantor statement that will allow it to seek financial assistance elsewhere, but give the confidence it needs to achieve financial support. If the airline is unable to pay for the loan (unlikely given post-COVID-19 travel forecasts), then the government would acquire an equity stake that it could sell, similar to when it owned the national carrier for 70 of its 100 years in operation. Other foreign airlines are unlikely to support an Australian airline when they have to protect their own in this uncertainty. CAPA - Centre for Aviation forecasts that without government support, many airlines around the world will go bankrupt. Australia has the chance to invest in a bright future inspired by innovation, collaboration and imagination. The Virgin Group that owns ~10% and has over 60 brands are also less likely to be able to provide more assistance, given many of these businesses have borne the brunt of this storm and have lost more than $400 million in the first few weeks alone. We sign this on behalf of the thousands of people who work for this airline and share a unique family bond that is Virgin Australia. We also do this to support a competitive and robust aviation industry. So that people have the choice and chance to travel, and support tourism for many years to come. Thank you.

Pat Trimboli
85,264 supporters
Petitioning Greg Hunt MP, Bill Shorten, Scott Morrison, Malcolm Turnbull, Catherine King, Julie Bishop, Tanya Plibersek, Janet Rice

Axe The TamponTax #BloodyOutrage

There’s no womb in society for a tampon tax. Did you know there is a GST on Tampons AND they are called a ‘luxury’?  I don’t know about you, but they don’t seem like a luxury to me. Condoms, lubricant, incontinence pads or sunscreen on the other hand are GST free. What’s with that?  It’s a bloody outrage. Putting a tax on products women need as a direct consequence of their biology is fundamentally sexist.It’s a stain on our national image. Half the population of Australia -- approximately 10 million women -- will pay tax on these products for the greater part of their lifetime. Costing us about $1000 for buying an essential health product. The Tampon Tax is ridiculous. Period. Luckily, women of childbearing age - those of us who need tampons - will be key voters in the upcoming election. So they'll need to listen if they want to woo us for our votes!It’s a bleeding disgrace. As Australians, as voters, as women, we request that the Federal Government the Opposition end this inherently sexist and unfair unfair tax. This tax is really cramping my style. Tampons belong on the GST free health products list - they're not a luxury. They're a necessity. Can you help me out by sharing the petition on Twitter and Facebook -- with all your friends and everyone else? Let's pull the plug on the Tampon Tax! #BloodyOutrage

Sophie Liley
73,923 supporters
Petitioning Bill Shorten

My ex invited men to rape me in my own home -- urgently make revenge porn a crime

For four years I’ve lived in fear. My ex was impersonating me online, inviting strangers to my family home to ‘rape, humiliate and torture’ me — it’s been hell. But right now, Malcolm Turnbull is still refusing to make ‘revenge porn’ a crime. He's instead proposing perpetrators of this hate just pay a mere fine. The new laws could be voted on within days. Senators, experts and lawyers are all saying this needs to be criminalised to be effective. Please sign my urgent petition telling Malcolm Turnbull to make this cyber rape a crime and not let women suffer like I have in this hell. These dangerous people need to be in jail. Over 50 strangers have appeared at my family home demanding sex - I still freeze with fear every time the doorbell rings. Images of me are online somewhere without my permission. Even the police admitted there was nothing they could do to help me - police can’t prevent or punish this behaviour unless it is a crime. It’s not good enough that Malcolm Turnbull refuses to make this a criminal act, instead saying these perpetrators of cyber rape only deserve a fine. Women are being left powerless. The UK, USA, Canada and Japan have all introduced specific legislation to protect revenge porn victims - it’s time for Australia to urgently follow their lead. Malcolm Turnbull — don’t allow perpetrators of revenge porn to get away with a fine and leave victims suffering. Make revenge porn a crime.

Robyn Night
61,114 supporters
Petitioning Greg Hunt MP, Ken Wyatt, Catherine King, Julie Collins, Andrew Wilkie, kerryn phelps, Julia Banks, Cathy McGowan, Leanne Wells, Terry Slevin, Brendan murphy


The 2015 Review of the Australian Government Rebate on Natural Therapies for Private Health Insurance concluded that the effects of Pilates as a treatment for a number of conditions (including low back pain) was uncertain. Since the Review, there has been a significant increase in the body of evidence (randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews) supporting the efficacy of Pilates as an effective Method for health. The removal of Pilates means that Health Funds are legislated against being able to provide rebates for Pilates services. This Rule could have a devastating affect on your studio, be it your business, place of work, or place of participation in Pilates. The adverse impacts of the change include:·      individuals no longer being able to access Pilates services·      potential increase in individuals accessing other allied health services with un-trained practitioners·      will affect the economics of Pilates businesses (possible closure of studios)·      could lead to increased and unnecessary medical and surgical interventions·      could result in an increase of pain medications being prescribed unnecessarily·      may lead to increased injury rates for older people ·      a lower quality of life and health for people who currently benefit from Pilates and may not be able to continue doing so·      will result in the loss of GST revenue for GovernmentWhat do we want? The Rule to be amended to allow benefits to be paid for Pilates services when carried out by a trained Pilates practitioner with accreditation from a recognised Pilates industry body. What can you do? Sign the petition! What else? You could also help by writing to your local member of parliament, the Health Minister or your Health Fund, your GP and anyone of influence – let them know how this will affect you, how Pilates has helped you, what your business means to the community.

Pilates Alliance Australasia PAA
8,015 supporters
Petitioning Sussan Ley


Type one diabetes is not a lifestyle choice. You can't get it from eating too much sugar. It is an autoimmune disorder, caused when the body's own immune system attacks the pancreas, rendering it permanently unable to produce insulin. The above picture is of our 6 year old daughter, Violet- a newly diagnosed Type 1 Diabetic.   The is no cure. 80% of those diagnosed have no family history. Most are young children. It is a life sentence of endless needles, finger pricks and carb counting. Management of type one is intense, round the clock and vitally important. Blood sugar that is too low will cause disorientation, loss of consciousness, coma and, if unrecognised or untreated- death. Low blood sugar levels whilst sleeping are particularly dangerous and can also be fatal.Blood sugar that is too high has an immediate threat of DKA (blood that is too acidic) which is also life threatening. It is a fine line and a balancing act that diabetics walk every day to try to maintain normal blood sugar levels. For you and I, that is between 4-6 mmol/l. A diabetic can sway from 2-22mmol/l in a day, even when they actively manage their diabetes to the best of their ability. The long term effects of poorly managed levels are frightening and costly to the community- kidney failure, loss of extremities, eye problems, damage to blood vessels, and damage to just about every organ in the body. Even young type one diabetics without long term complications often require hospitalisation for common gastro and flu, also at great cost to the tax payer. In addition to illness, blood sugar levels are effected by exercise, hormones and even emotion. To say that blood sugar levels are unpredictable is a significant understatement. To better manage their diabetes, type one patients need comprehensive information about the way their body's blood glucose levels trend. The current recommendation (that is supported and funded by the Australian healthcare system) is for type one diabetics to check their blood sugar levels by conducting approximately 10 finger pricks a day (upon waking, before every snack or meal, before bed and at 2am). But this only provides 10 small snapshots, and does not allow the identification of blood sugar level trends. Continuous Glucose monitoring (CGM) is the perfect solution to many complications faced daily by type one diabetics. CGM is conducted by the wearing of a sensor (such as a Dexcom) that checks the blood sugar level every 5 minutes, 24 hours a day. It allows for trend identification, prevention of high and low blood sugar events, and is the best way to prevent hospitalisation for common illnesses, as it allows for better management and control at home. Better day to day management is the best prevention for long term complications. It also allows type one diabetics (and their families) to sleep at night, knowing they will be alerted by their CGM if their blood sugar is dangerously low - thus saving lives! The technology for CGM is available in Australia - for a price. Unfortunately, the Australian government does not support this technology, calling it a ' lifestyle choice', and it is not covered by the NDSS/ PBS or private health insurance. The out of pocket costs are prohibitive to Australian families (we pay approximately $108 per week for CGM, in addition to the other costs of diabetes management- insulin, consumables, insulin pumps, blood glucose meters, etc). Inclusion of CGM into the NDSS/ PBS will initially have a cost to the tax payer, yes. But the savings in avoided hospital stays and long term complications will be significant. Diabetics only make up 3% of the population, and type one make up 10% of these but treatment costs for long term complications are staggering- between $4500 and $9000+ per person per year. In addition to the financial and health implications just described, a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes also has a profound emotional impact on the entire family. As the parent of a newly diagnosed 6 year old child, I know firsthand of the shock, grief, fear and desperation of coming to terms with the diagnosis of a chronic medical condition that has the real possibility of shortening your child's lifespan by decades. CGM also provides type 1 diabetics and their families peace of mind. The ability to know with a glance at the Dexcom that your child is not going dangerously low during gymnastics class, dangerously high due to a failed/missed insulin dose. To know that your child WILL wake up the next morning! Please help support the inclusion of CGM on the NDSS/ PBS by signing this petition.

Erika Lutz
7,916 supporters
Petitioning Greg Hunt MP, Catherine King

Better health care for Australians with chronic pain

For far too long in Australia, the only choice to manage pain has been taking painkillers like coedine that often create more problems and harms than they address.  If codeine is no longer available over the counter then people with chronic pain need accessible and alternative treatments! I am Mary-Lynne Cochrane, a Good Samaritan Sister who knows what it is like living with chronic pain. I have lived with arthritis for more than 30 years. In that time, I’ve had nearly all of my major joints replaced, a bone transplant, and three back surgeries. I have lived with constant pain, sometimes unable to move. A lifetime of mismanagement with painkillers and their side effects has taken its toll. There are thousands of people with similar stories out there. In the early stages of my pain I took the over-the-counter drug Mersyndol, sometimes doubling the dose to cover the pain. After that I took a range of prescription opioids including Panadeine Forte, Morphine, Endone, OxyContin and Gabapentin. They made me sleepy; I put on weight, and my pain still became uncontrollable. I always had to make sure I had enough painkillers in the house. If I didn’t have enough I would panic at the thought of running out and not being able to relieve the pain. I believed my only choice was to cover up the pain rather than manage it. I am one individual – I want to change one thing that would help countless others like me. I only learned how to manage pain without medication a few years ago when I attended a pain clinic. I learned about my pain, I had to change my thinking and practice of relieving pain. Instead of lying down and being careful, I now know I have to get up and move. There is still a lot of misunderstanding in the community about pain management, and it is very important people who want to stop taking opioids are given the right support to do so. It shouldn’t cost me more to manage pain properly using allied health care than it does to use painkillers. The Therapeutic Goods Administration is removing one of the few choices that people living with pain  – over-the-counter codeine. When misused, codeine can be a dangerous and addictive opioid.  It is responsible for the deaths of over a hundred people a year. Australians are forced to use this over-the-counter killer because there are so few options available. At present, patients with a chronic condition can be eligible for five allied health services per calendar year. The five services may be made up of one type of service (e.g. five physiotherapy services) or a combination of different types of services (e.g. one dietetic and four podiatry services). The GP determines the number and combination of services that are appropriate for the patient’s treatment requirements. There is no way to manage a chronic pain condition with such little support. One person with a flare up of pain can use five of these services in a week. People using codeine often need better medical support and to be shown alternatives. Join me in my call to the Liberal and Labor parties: we urgently need an action plan for access to treatments for people with chronic pain.

5,184 supporters
Petitioning Greg Hunt MP, Catherine King, Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten

Aimovig on the PBS and more support for migraine

TL:DR - We're asking both sides of politics to show some #migrainelove and commit to funding for migraine research and awareness, and to putting new medicines that prevent migraines on the PBS (the first one is called Aimovig). And we're asking for those commitments before the Australian Federal election on May 18, so those who want to vote on this issue know who to vote for. Please sign and share! ---------------------------------------- Migraine affects an estimated 5 million Australians. That's double the number of people living with asthma, 5 times as many people with diabetes, 10 times as many people living with cancer or dementia. It costs the economy an estimated $35 billion a year.  Migraine is an ignored, underfunded and misunderstood condition. It is not 'just a headache'. It is a debilitating and disabling condition which disproportionately affects working age women. We don't begrudge other unwell people the support they get, but yet another budget and (by the looks) another election campaign where we don't even rate a mention is not ok. Migraine is the least-respected, most-neglected and worst-managed medical disorder worldwide, and we're tired of being ignored.  Far too many migraine sufferers in Australia are permanently disabled. Especially those with chronic migraine (more than 15 headache days per month), migraine with aura (seeing lights or blind spots, other sensory disturbances or speech issues), hemiplegic migraine (which causes weakness and numbness down one side), and brainstem migraine (which can involve everything from loss of balance, hearing and speech issues, to loss of consciousness).  We can't drive, work, take care of our kids, or have anything that resembles a normal life. Reliant on a disability pension or family support, we are dumped on the garbage heap of the nation and forgotten.  A new class of medications based on science around the role of calcitonin gene-related peptides (CGRP) has given us the very first ray of hope in getting our lives back. The first of four drugs in the new generation of migraine preventative treatments, Aimovig, is being trialed by many chronic and severe migraine sufferers with truly amazing results. We can drive again. We can work again. We can take care of our kids again.  But the cost is $800 per injection. We need Aimovig to be on the PBS now so we can get off our disability pensions, stop being a constant drain on the health system, and get our lives back.  Far too many have trialed Aimovig for the 3 months that Novartis has offered it for free, had fantastic results, and then slid back into the darkness of relentless migraines because they can't afford the $800 per injection. We need this medicine. Now. We also need funding for migraine research and awareness. We don't understand so much about our condition, because the research simply isn't done. There has not even been a decent study on how many Australians are affected by migraine or how much money it rips from the economy: statistics are based on overseas studies. And a campaign to raise awareness of the condition is desperately needed, so that everyone can understand how serious it can be (particularly the increased risk of stroke), that common treatments like codeine can make it worse, and that there are migraine specific treatments available, including Triptans and the new generation CGRP preventative treatments.  To whomever the Prime Minister and Health Minister is after the election, we need: - Aimovig on the PBS urgently- Priority listing to the other CGRP treatments such as Emgality and Ajovy as they become available- Funding for research and awareness of migraine And we'd like you to commit to these three things as part of your election campaign so we know who to vote for. #NoAimovigNoVote — If you suffer from severe or chronic migraines we recommend the following Facebook groups: Australia - Aimovig migraine treatment group Chronic migraine awareness Australia and NZ group Australia Hemiplegic and Chronic Migraine Support Group  

Raphaella Kathryn Crosby
3,415 supporters
Petitioning Malcolm Turnbull, The Hon. Sussan Ley MP, Catherine King, Bill Shorten

Keep low-dose codeine medication available over-the-counter

Stopping low-dose codeine medications from being available over-the-counter (OTC) will greatly inconvenience honest hard working Australians, Doctors & hospitals. As a mother who works full time & an Australian consumer, I on occasion require medications such as Panadeine Extra or Nurofen Plus to relieve period pain or migraines so that I can go to work & earn a living. In these instances I do not have time to wait one week to see my Doctor, I need a timely low-dose codeine medication which is very effective at managing my pain & enables me to function to attend work & look after my young children. If these medications are not readily available in our time of need from the pharmacists we trust, what are we the public supposed to do? Take time off work & potentially lose income? Call the home doctor service (if that hasn't been abolished)? Present at the hospital or a walk in clinic?  I am not a drug addict, do not suffer from a long term chronic pain illness & am not looking to manipulate the system in any way - I am simply an Australian mum who like most other people in the community works full time & cannot afford not to function because of a short term ailment like period pain or migraines.  The sale of OTC codeine medications is already monitored by pharmacists using the MedsASSIST program by Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Reports of this seem to be successful & most consumers seem happy for their purchase of codeine to be recorded & monitored. Many Australians agree that people who suffer from long term chronic pain illnesses should have prescriptions for codeine if they require frequent/high doses, but what about the rest of us who only require it on occasion? Are we put into the "drug addict category?" Why are pharmacists not being trusted to utilise the current real time monitoring system & decide if they are willing to sell a customer low-dose codeine products based on frequency of purchases? Pharmacists advise consumers how to take medications, what to avoid etc with every single sale. I think that the average occasional users of these medications have been vastly overlooked & the role of pharmacists under valued. Today's ABC news article states: "The regulator said there was "little evidence" low-dose codeine medicines were "any more effective for pain relief or cough than similar medicines without codeine"." I strongly disagree with that statement by the Therapeutic Goods Administration - I think many Australians benefit from low-dose codeine medication on occasion & if it was so ineffective then no-one would bother taking it. I believe most people try using medications like paracetamol or ibuprofen first & if they prove ineffective then look to the low-dose codeine medications.  I would like to see the Government take the time to consult with the community before implementing this policy & provide solutions for what consumers can do if they require low-dose codeine medications but either cannot afford to pay to see a Doctor or cannot afford to wait a few weeks to get an appointment with a Doctor. Shall we all go to emergency at our local hospitals & burden the already overburdened health system if our GP's are not available at our time of need? Will funding be granted to assist people with addiction given that most rehabilition services are already overburdened & have significant waiting times? Please advise. 

Sally Kasparek
2,205 supporters
Keep Virgin Australia In The Skies

Thank you for launching this petition and to the thousands of signatories. Federal Labor is behind your campaign to keep Virgin, and our entire aviation industry, in the skies. The Morrison Government must extend a lifeline to Virgin to support the airline and its staff through this crisis. If it does not, it is taking an active decision to see one of our major airlines fail. This will have significant consequences for thousands of workers across the aviation sector and the recovery of our entire economy. The Government has a responsibility to all Australians to ensure the current structure of the aviation industry is retained beyond the crisis as it supports jobs, promotes competition and ensures services regularly reach all Australians. This includes two full service airlines with budget partners and a strong network of regional carriers. The Government has shown a willingness to support smaller airlines, including Rex which is also majority foreign-owned, through a $100 million package to address the cash flow crisis of a dozen regional airlines. It must now be flexible and be open to options for financially supporting large aviation companies, like Virgin Australia. Such support could include extending or guaranteeing lines of credit and taking an equity stake, which will ensure that when the industry bounces back – and it will – Government can recoup its investment. Despite claiming it is continuing to work with the major airlines, the Government’s commentary in the past fortnight has been unhelpful and only serves to undermine bipartisan efforts to protect the aviation sector. Comments ruling out support for Virgin and claiming a major airline can fail and be replaced by a foreign company, and that the Government is prepared to let that happen, do not serve Australians well. They fail to account for the massive displacement of workers or that any new entrant faces a long lag time before it could secure necessary approvals, procure aircraft, recruit staff then begin operations. Our entire aviation sector will be critical in supporting the broader economy, in the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. If a major airline like Virgin is not there in the recovery, it will hurt our tourism sector, services industries and broader economy - as well as the thousands of workers directly employed by the company. It is not possible for the aviation industry to ‘hibernate’ over coming months without adequate government support. The aviation downturn came about from Government imposed travel restrictions and social distancing measures necessary for public health. Many aviation companies had no capacity to go into the crisis with large cash reserves, and no-one can predict when the crisis will end, let alone when normal operations will resume. The services provided by Virgin benefit many Australians who live and work in Australia’s capital cities and regional centres. Virgin provides essential transport services for our tourism visitors and for Australians traveling for work and pleasure. Time-critical freight is moved in the bellies of Virgin aircraft, and regional Australians use Virgin air services to access essential services. Importantly, some 10,000 Australians work for Virgin Australia. While Labor welcomed the Government’s aviation packages, we highlighted they do not go far enough and do not protect jobs. With tighter travel restrictions now in place, a package based on refunding around half a billion dollars in fees and charges incurred when flying is now of limited benefit to airlines. The wage subsidies announced after calls from ACTU, the business community and Labor should provide many aviation workers with ongoing financial support and allow them to seamlessly go back to their jobs when the sector begins to recover. Labor continues to raise a number of issues with the Government regarding eligibility and operation of the wage subsidies. Federal Labor will always back our aviation industry, and the hundreds of thousands of workers within it. We are continuing to push the Government to ensure that aviation workers and the companies they work for are supported through this crisis and are able to get back to work as soon as possible.

1 year ago
Decriminalise the use of medicinal cannabis for people with terminal cancer like my son.

Thank you for signing the petition to ‘Fix Dan’s Law’ and boost access to medicinal cannabis for patients around Australia. I’m writing to let you know that’s exactly what a Shorten Labor Government will do. Unlike the Liberals, Labor understands that there is evidence to support the use of medicinal cannabis for a range of conditions, and believes that the federal government should play a national leadership role in expanding access. We also understand that the alternative to regulated access isn’t other therapies – it’s the uncertainties and dangers of the black market, particularly for desperate parents. That’s why Labor wants to give appropriate medicinal cannabis users the opportunity to transition from unregulated to regulated products. This transition is particularly urgent for Australians who are terminally ill. Labor has led the national debate on medicinal cannabis, even from Opposition. Over the last two terms, Labor has: - Introduced legislation for a national medicinal cannabis scheme, eventually forcing the Liberals to do the same; - Worked with the Senate to ensure access to medicinal cannabis for terminally ill Australians (although this was subsequently blocked by the Liberals – a move which a Labor Government will overturn); and - Forced assurances from the Liberals on Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) processing times and Commonwealth-state processes. But Labor understands that these steps are not enough. The TGA’s own figures show that it has approved just 4,200 applications to access medicinal cannabis under the Special Access Scheme, with next to none in Tasmania and the Northern Territory – compared to estimates that over 100,000 Australians could benefit from medicinal cannabis. That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will task the Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis with developing options to: - Build even more evidence for medicinal cannabis, including through facilitating Australian research, a potential Commonwealth trial, and consideration of overseas experience; - Increase prescribing rates (where appropriate) by educating and training clinicians on medicinal cannabis; - Reduce red tape, including by streamlining duplicative processes in the remaining states and territories, and by improving the operation, timeliness and coordination of the Office of Drug Control and other regulators; - Address the current barriers to TGA and Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) applications for medicinal cannabis, which will be crucial to improving access and affordability; and - Respond to any advice from the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs on the global treatment of cannabis. Labor will receive and act on this advice by the end of 2019. We will also review the membership of the Council and appoint representatives to ensure it reflects the views of patients, advocates and industry. At this stage Labor believes that regulating medicinal cannabis within the usual TGA system is the most appropriate way to build clinical confidence, which is crucial to expanding access. If doctors are not assured by the TGA that medicinal cannabis products are safe and effective, prescribing rates will not increase, and patients will continue to be denied access. The fledgling Australian medicinal cannabis industry has also warned against fundamental regulatory change at this time. Labor wants to encourage competition and choice in the domestic medicinal cannabis market, which will contribute to a consistent and affordable supply of product over time. However, Labor also acknowledges the view of many patients and advocates that the TGA system will never be fit-for-purpose for medicinal cannabis. This view has emerged after years of frustration under the Liberals. A Shorten Labor Government will therefore review implementation of the above changes by the end of 2020, and consider more fundamental changes to Australia’s regulatory regime if access has not improved substantially. Once again, thank you for your advocacy on this issue. Only Labor will provide national leadership on medicinal cannabis and improve access for patients around Australia. Yours sincerely, Catherine King Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare

2 years ago
Aimovig on the PBS and more support for migraine

Dear Raphaella (and petition signers), Thank you for your petition regarding the listing of medications, in particular Aimovig for the treatment of miagraines, on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Labor created the PBS, and we want all Australians to have affordable access to recommended medicines. That’s why Bill Shorten recently announced Labor’s Affordable Medicines Guarantee – a commitment to list all drugs that are recommended by the independent experts on the PBS. A Shorten Labor Government will also deliver faster access to cheaper medicines by endorsing changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. As you may be aware, listing drugs on the PBS is a three-step process. First, medicines must be judged to be safe and effective by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA is tasked with safeguarding the health of Australians through effective and timely regulation of therapeutic goods. Every medicine that is registered for use in Australia by the TGA must be used in accordance with the conditions and criteria under which it is registered. For each medicine this information is outlined in a Product Information Statement, which can be accessed here: Second, drugs must be considered by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). Drugs can only be considered by the PBAC following nomination by their sponsor, usually the drug manufacturer. The PBAC will consider the drug in terms of its effectiveness and cost, including in comparison to other available treatments. An application for the listing of ERENUMAB, Injection 70 mg in 1 mL single dose pre-filled pen, Aimovig for the treatment of migraine was considered by the PBAC at the July 2018 meeting. The review of the application and the PBAC’s decision not to recommend Aimovig can be seen on the PBS website here (scroll to section seven): For an application drug that has previously been considered and rejected by the PBAC, the sponsor is able to address the concerns raised in the PBAC’s report and resubmit for further consideration. Norvartis made a second application to the PBAC for the listing of Aimovig at the March 2019 meeting of the PBAC. The PBAC did not recommend this listing of Aimovig on the PBS at this meeting. Norvatis is able to make another application to the PBAC for the listing of Aimovig. Norvatis has indicated they are working towards this task but have not specified a timeframe. Contact details for Norvatis can be found here: Finally, if PBAC recommends a listing, the government of the day must negotiate with the sponsor to list the drug on the PBS. Unfortunately, the Liberals have admitted there are at least 18 drugs recommended by PBAC that they will never list. And at last count, there were dozens more drugs that had been recommended by the PBAC but not yet listed on the PBS. In contrast, a Shorten Labor Government will list all drugs recommended by the PBAC, ensuring that all Australians can access the medicines that they need. Please be assured, should the PBAC in the future recommend the listing of Aimovig, a Shorten Labor Government would act to make this happen as quickly as possible. I hope this information is of assistance to you. Yours sincerely, Catherine King Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare

2 years ago
Our health counts: End deadly disability discrimination

Dear Shu (and petition signers), Thank you for your correspondence regarding the health of people with intellectual disability. Over 400,000 Australians have intellectual disability, and they face huge health inequalities. As you point out, Australians with intellectual disability have higher rates of physical and mental health conditions, and twice the rate of emergency department presentations and hospital admissions. Tragically, the result of these inequalities is that an estimated 38 per cent of deaths of people with intellectual disability are potentially avoidable. A coalition of over 120 doctors and experts say that one reason for this toll is that health professionals aren’t sufficiently trained on intellectual disability. They face challenges communicating with people with intellectual disability, distinguishing between health problems and disability, and diagnosing complex health conditions. Yet medical degrees still include an average of just 2.6 hours of training on intellectual disability health care. Most nursing degrees have no content on intellectual disability. This is why a Shorten Labor Government will invest $9.5 million to improve the health of people with intellectual disability by tailoring health care to their needs. Through its $9.5 million commitment, Labor will partner with the Council for Intellectual Disability and Inclusion Australia to better educate and train health professionals on caring for people with intellectual disability by: - Piloting a new model of placing intellectual disability health workers in Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to train GPs and other primary health care providers on the specific needs of people with intellectual disability. Labor’s $6.3 million commitment will fund a three year pilot of 10 trainers across four PHNs, and gather evidence on expanding the program. - Develop, trial and evaluate a ‘toolkit’ on intellectual disability health care for medical and nursing schools. Labor’s $3.2 million commitment will fund the toolkit itself and an initial pilot of improved education in two medical and two nursing schools. Labor believes that all Australians deserve access to the best possible health care. That’s why we created Medicare, and why we’ll make these important investments. In contrast, under the Liberals 1.3 million Australians delay or avoid health care due to cost. The current Morrison Government has also failed to take national action on the health needs of people with intellectual disability. This election is a choice between a Shorten Labor Government with a plan for health, or more cuts and chaos from the Liberals. Only Labor will protect and strengthen Medicare for all Australians. Once again, thank you for taking the time to raise this important matter with me. Yours sincerely, Catherine King Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare

2 years ago
Help secure the future of Her Majesty's Ballarat

Dear petition signers, Exciting news! This week Labor’s Shadow Minister for the Arts Tony Burke and I announced that a Shorten Labor Government will invest $5 million to finish the job and set Her Majesty’s up for the future. As you know, one of Ballarat’s best loved and most iconic buildings, Her Majesty’s is currently undergoing much needed repairs. Labor’s investment will set the building up for the future, installing the lifts, ramps and other facilities needed to ensure that all members of the Ballarat community can access the facilities. These changes will mean that patrons of all abilities will be able to enjoy the performances and events at Her Majesty’s, while performers and guests of all abilities will have easy access to the stage. At the announcement of the funding, Tony and I heard from disability advocates just how important these upgrades will be. Her Majesty’s is where we in Ballarat tell our story – and now the whole community will be able to share in the joy and excitement that that can bring. This is a project that has united the community – as shown by thousands of locals just like yourself who signed a petition in favour of the works. I know how important your support was in helping me to advocate for this funding. Without the support of the entire Ballarat community this funding commitment could not have been secured. Unfortunately the Liberals are yet to commit to matching Labor’s commitment. Only Labor is prepared to invest in Her Majesty’s and the future of our community. Thank you again for your support. Yours sincerely, Catherine King Federal Member for Ballarat

2 years ago
Stop HIV Stigma - Australia Needs a New National HIV Education Campaign

Thank you for signing the petition “Do you know your HIV Status? Are you at risk of contracting HIV?” on Australia has long been at the forefront of the global response to HIV. In the 1980s the Hawke Labor Government led the world with its response to the epidemic. But progress has plateaued, with 1,000 new diagnoses last year – meaning Australia will no longer meet our previous goal of ending new HIV transmissions by 2020. As you emphasise, stigma also remains a major challenge for Australians who are HIV positive. That’s why we have already committed that a Shorten Labor Government will invest $39 million to restore the community-led response to HIV and make HIV history. Labor’s commitment will include: 1. $10 million a year to renew Australia’s HIV response by restoring the funding and capacity that the Liberals have cut from HIV peak organisations, including the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, the National Association of People with HIV, Scarlet Alliance and the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League. Labor’s investment in these groups and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation will allow them to undertake critical engagement and communications activity with at-risk populations – including to tackle stigma. 2. $3 million a year to target ‘hidden populations’ - including people who aren’t diagnosed with or treated for HIV, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Labor’s investment will improve prevention, testing and treatment for these groups through new health promotion campaigns, expanding access to testing, and partnering with primary health care providers to ensure that people who are diagnosed with HIV are treated. Labor’s commitment also included $14 million to support state and territory trials of the HIV medicine PrEP until it was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. We are thrilled that this game-changing medicine is now on the PBS, thanks to the advocacy of people like you. But too many Australians are still being diagnosed with HIV, which is why a Labor Government will invest in tackling stigma and making HIV history. Thank you again for your continued advocacy on this important issue. Yours sincerely, Catherine King Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare

2 years ago
Axe The TamponTax #BloodyOutrage

Dear petitioners, I’m writing to let you know Labor stands with you against the tampon tax – and has a concrete plan to abolish it. This is a tax on women. It’s unfair and discriminatory. The decision to include women’s sanitary products in the GST should never have been made in the first place. There is no question that sanitary products are essential items. They’re not a luxury - they’re a basic need. The fact that the 10 per cent GST is applied to tampons and pads but not to items like condoms is plainly ridiculous. So Labor has recently announced plans to abolish the GST on sanitary products. A Shorten Labor Government will work with the states and territories to end this tax once and for all. Labor leaders in every state and territory have already backed our plan, so we’re confident we can deliver. We will offset the cost by applying the GST to a range of natural therapies that the Government’s Chief Medical Officer says do not have proven health benefits. This will mean that abolishing the tampon tax has no impact on states’ budget bottom lines – which is important to ensuring their support. Malcolm Turnbull could back this plan today and make it happen before the next election. But if he doesn’t, Labor is determined to act. Catherine King Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare

3 years ago
“Praying the Gay Away” nearly killed me - outlaw ‘LGBTQA+ Conversion’ practices now!

Dear petitioners, I’m writing to let you know that Labor stands with you, Chris Csabs and the medical experts in opposing gay conversion therapy. As Chris and other Australians have detailed, conversion therapy is discredited and dangerous. But shockingly, two Turnbull Government ministers – the Acting Prime Minister and the Health Minister – have now failed to condemn the practice when given the chance. This follows attempts by some Liberals to restore the practice in Victoria. Greg Hunt and Michael McCormack’s comments were ignorant and incredibly hurtful, and fly in the face of expert advice. The Australian Medical Association “unequivocally condemns” gay conversion therapy, saying* it is: “harmful to both the individuals who are subjected to it, and society more broadly, as it perpetuates the erroneous belief that homosexuality is a disorder which requires a cure”. This advice is backed by the World Medical Association, which says** that conversion therapies: “have no medical indication and represent a serious threat to the health and human rights of those so treated”. Labor agrees. That’s why we’re calling on the Turnbull Government to clarify its stance on gay conversion therapy urgently – and work with the states to ban it. Thanks for signing Chris’s petition, and please be assured that Labor will keep fighting alongside LGBTI Australians to relegate conversion therapy to history – where it belongs. Catherine King Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare * **

3 years ago
Stroke survivors need our support

I’m proud to be able to tell you that a Shorten Labor Government will deliver a $16 million boost to stroke awareness and follow up care to tackle. One in six Australians will have a stroke in their lifetime, with Australians suffering more than 50,000 new or recurrent strokes this year alone. Almost half a million Australians are already living with the effects of a stroke, a figure that is expected to climb to over 700,000 by 2032 and almost one million by 2050. But it doesn’t have to be this way – access to quick treatment and support services can save lives and reduce disability. A Shorten Labor Government will partner with the Stroke Foundation to increase awareness of the signs of stroke and ensure better supports for stroke survivors, including improving access to treatments and support. Labor’s investment will raise awareness of the Stroke Foundation’s FAST test by forming local partnerships and re-establishing the StrokeSafe Ambassador program. The number one issue for stroke survivors is improved care. A Shorten Labor Government will therefore invest in the Stroke Foundation’s follow-up and referral service for around 24,000 stroke survivors. This will facilitate their sustainable, long-term recovery. Leaving hospital after a stroke can be a very frightening and isolating time for survivors, particularly for those who don’t have family support. Survivors speak of not being able to access information and services and being left to fend for themselves, unaware of the right places to seek help. The Stroke Foundation’s follow up and referral service will provide comprehensive post-hospital support to stroke patients, their carers and families. The service will pro-actively contact stroke survivors via a phone call at around six weeks post discharge providing a needs assessment, offering assistance and community service referral. The follow-up service will also provide vital information for families and carers as they help their loved one adjust to life after a stroke. Thank you for showing your care, and support for this vital issue, Catherine King MP Shadow Minister for Health

5 years ago