Decision Maker

Chris Bowen

  • Shadow Minister for Health

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Petitioning Greg Hunt MP, Scott Morrison, Senator Richard Di Natale, Chris Bowen

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

The 24th February 2019 marked the fourth anniversary of the death from bowel cancer of my beautiful 25-year-old son Dan Haslam - and is the third anniversary of the legislative changes we believed would make medicinal cannabis available to all sick Australians who needed it.  When it was passed, they called it 'Dan's Law'. After years of campaigning, backed by this petition which at the time was signed by over 250,000 people, I was so proud. Dan wasn't beside me, but he was with me. But now I'm angry and bitterly disappointed. Why? Because the medicinal cannabis system kickstarted by Dan's Law is a mess. Rather than making things easier, the legislative changes of 2016 which were supposed to make cannabis and cannabis products available to sick Australians have barely improved matters at all. Only around 2000 people have been able to legally access medicinal cannabis. Patients still struggle to obtain such medicines legally while a huge black market has developed servicing hundreds of thousands of people.   The products supplied by this illicit market are of course of unknown quality and safety, completely illegal and are being used without medical supervision, placing thousands of sick people in harm’s way. But it gets even worse. A knock-on of the 2016 Dan's Law legislation has been that medicinal cannabis and other cannabis products fall into a state of permanent ‘regulatory limbo’. They are – quite literally ‘approved unapproved medicines’. And the TGA, which approves new medicines in Australia, is simply ill-prepared to assess medicinal cannabis. Dan’s Law was put in place to legalise the cultivation of medicinal cannabis in Australia. But was it all for nothing? That's why I'm therefore re-starting this petition and asking for your help to fix the medicinal cannabis mess.  Please, sign and share this petition and help me honour my son's life and hard work. What we have now is an insult to his memory, and leaves hundreds of thousands of chronically and terminally ill Australians in unnecessary pain.  #FixDansLaw 

Lucy Haslam
428,981 supporters
Petitioning Josh Frydenberg - Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, Bill Shorten, Chris Bowen - Shadow Treasurer

Save the Mortgage Broking Industry!

We are calling on the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to ignore the recommendation made by the Banking Royal Commission to change Mortgage Broker remuneration.  We also call upon the Opposition Leader and Shadow Treasurer to pledge that they will ignore this recommendation, should they win government. Owning a home is the great Australian dream that has become increasingly out of reach for many Australians in the past decade. The proposed changes to the mortgage broking industry, recommended this week by the Royal Commission, will place that dream even further out of reach for many people. We ask both the government and opposition to thoroughly consider the implications of enacting the recommendations made regarding the mortgage broking industry, and ensure that the outcome is fair to the average Australian. We support keeping mortgage broking free to consumers, and we support the ‘paid-the-same’ commission model employed by most brokerages that has ensured impartial decision making for almost 30 years. We completely reject the assertion by Commissioner Hayne and Matt Comyn, CBA CEO, that trailing commission is “money for nothing”. Mortgage Brokers are available 24/7 to answer clients questions, undertake loan variations, provide support and education, review their loans and make sure they aren’t getting ripped off by the banks by negotiating better rates on their behalf, as well as many other services.  This is what they receive trailing commission for, and we stress actually provides for better customer outcomes.  Without Mortgage Brokers being constantly being in contact with clients, banks use ‘rate creep’ to gouge more and more interest from clients due to new and bigger discounts becoming available to NEW clients, while existing clients effectively pay more. We strongly believe that customers will end up paying more. Home buyers will be penalised in one of two ways: either they will be unable to afford the proposed fee-for-service structure, resulting in a reduced ability to access the funding that is right for them; or, those that can afford the proposed fee-for-service structure will be forced to absorb significant costs that the banking sector were previously responsible for. Removing the commission structure that is paid by banks to mortgage brokers is estimated to put billions of dollars back into the Big 4 Banks, while implementing a fee-for-service structure transfers the responsibility of those costs to aspiring property buyers already making the most expensive purchase of their life. The Royal Commission uncovered misconduct and even criminal activity at some of the highest levels of Australian banking, and yet mortgage brokers and their customers are the key group likely to suffer significant penalties in the wake of the report.  Smaller banks without a large branch network who currently rely on brokers to introduce customers will also suffer a significant loss of marketshare. The Big 4 banks, meanwhile, have had some of their best days on the share market since the report was made publicly available. Mortgage Brokers are mostly small business owners who potentially could lose their businesses and their staff could lose their jobs. In almost three decades, the mortgage broking industry has brought competition to the Australian finance market, and today more than half of all home loans in Australia originate with a mortgage broker. If you're part of that statistic, or if you just value choice and competition in the finance sector, please pledge your support for this petition to ensure it is noticed by our Federal Government. Update:  Over 50,000 have signed this petition - that's potentially 50,000 votes for any party or Senator who supports us.

Rob McFadden
103,439 supporters
Petitioning Australian Government, Greg Hunt, Chris Bowen

Funding Fairness for Ovarian Cancer Research

I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in February 2016. Surprisingly, my treatment was the same they've been giving women for 50 years: de-bulking surgery followed by brutal chemotherapy. Quite typically my cancer relapsed before Christmas 2016, making me terminal. Why? There is no cure for relapsed ovarian cancer. I was horrified to learn this and think it's pretty outrageous. Our ovaries are the very essence of life and yet when it comes to cancer they are stuck with decades-old treatment and a shocking prognosis. Ovarian cancer has a 46% five year survival rate. Compared to the 91% survival rate of breast cancer we are lagging way behind. For me this means that I'm not going to survive to share significant life milestones, like my daughter's graduation, her marriage, her first child. As a single mother, I find this cruel and terrifying. I have come to know many single and married mums who are living with this fear as they deal with the realities of their ovarian cancer. And there's a common reaction - if I had breast cancer the chances of me surviving would be doubled. How unfair. Breast cancer receives four times as much funding as ovarian cancer, and corporate funding is almost endless. Money pays for research. Research provides better outcomes. It's pretty simple. Ovarian cancer takes the lives of 1,000 Australian women every year but is one of the most under-funded cancers receiving four times LESS than breast cancer. I applaud the tremendous outcomes in the fight against breast cancer and believe that with similar commitment and resources we can achieve the same success for ovarian cancer. That's why we need funding fairness - to give women with ovarian cancer a fighting chance to be here for our children and our grandchildren, to continue to contribute to society rather than be taken before our time just because society did not see ovaries as important as breasts. Please sign and share my petition as I call on the government and donors to look below the waist when it comes to cancer funding and give researchers the money they need to come up with a screening test, clinical trials and better treatment options for ovarian cancer. If you want to donate directly to Pink Meets Teal, you can do so via Fearless Flowers:

Pink Meets Teal
78,416 supporters
Petitioning Greg Hunt, Chris Bowen

Stop cuts to holistic mental health care

Stop cuts to comprehensive health care for those with mental illness. The federal government has recently sent out letters to 341 General Practitioners requesting voluntary repayments for mental health consultations. The issue? Seeing a patient about a mental health issue and a physical issue at the same consultation. According to Medicare this should only occur if the physical issue is raised first. If the patient has come for a mental health consultation but raises concerns about a physical problem, work done towards the physical issue only attracts Medicare funding if “it is clinically indicated that a separate problem must be treated immediately” - immediately is undefined. These letters come from the Medicare compliance department as part of a “nudge campaign”. Their intention is to induce fear and reduce Medicare costs, but the flow on effect will be to reduce the number of GPs who feel safe to look after people with complex mental and physical health conditions. This specifically discourages the wholistic care of patients with mental health concerns. According to Medicare, if you have physical health concerns AND mental health issues, you have to deal with them in that order. Not vice versa. It’s ridiculous to think that mental health issues present in isolation. In fact, we know that the burden of physical illness in this group is higher and yet - we are asked to deal with the mental and physical aspects of their health on separate days and are being specifically targeted if it is deemed we have provided comprehensive, joined-up, patient-centred care “too much”. It takes a lot to open up to a GP. Now we are being told to say - sorry but I have to deal the rest of your issues on another day. This is a cut to already overburdened mental health care systems and the most vulnerable members of our society. And worse yet it’s happening by stealth. This is your rebate, this is your Medicare. Say no. Sign this petition.

Gillian Riley
39,254 supporters
Petitioning Greg Hunt, Scott Morrison, Anthony Albanese, Chris Bowen

Make migraine a national priority!

Migraine affects 1 in 5 Australians, and almost half of all women between the ages of 35 and 55 (Deloitte Access Economics 2018). It is a serious neurological condition, with no cure, and can be significantly disabling if not well managed.  For a variety of reasons, migraine has never been well managed. It's estimated half of all people living with migraine have never seen a doctor about it. And most don't know a great deal about their condition, or how to manage it.  As part of Migraine Awareness Month in June 2020, we called on leaders from both sides to commit to make migraine a national priority.  At the end of Migraine Awareness Month, our supporters voted to keep the petition up until migraine is a national priority. We're in it for the long haul. There has been so little done to better manage migraine that the gains we can make are huge! Here's some of our reasons why we think making managing migraine a national priority is good for all Australians: Because there are literally millions of Australians living with migraine, any improvement in the way we manage the condition will have a significant impact on all the systems we currently drain. Less pressure on the health care system and improved productivity in business is just the tip of the iceberg.  Migraine is the leading cause of disability for people under 50 - which means that our burden on the health and welfare systems from unmanaged migraine is decades-long. With better management, those young people can stay in work and off welfare, and we can significantly reduce the burden on the health system. The most affected group is women aged 35 to 55. They can't maintain full-time work, or get passed over for promotions and pay raises because they are sick too often. Better managing migraine not only improves their lives, and their family's lives, and their productivity at work, it also helps close the gender pay gap.  We all need migraine to be a national priority.  Everyone knows someone with migraine. We can improve the lives of 5 million Australians, and their families and workplaces, through some very simple first steps to better manage migraine. We just need our leaders to commit to prioritising migraine so we can start making that difference.   Please sign this petition to show you think that migraine is important and that our leaders should make managing migraine a national priority.

Migraine Australia
8,657 supporters
Petitioning Greg Hunt, Chris Bowen, Brad Hazzard

Australia deserves a targeted national skin check program

Skin cancer is our 'national cancer'. It's likely to affect 2 in 3 Australians and kill one of us every five hours. Horrible right...  Thankfully, it's also one of our most treatable cancers - if it's detected early. Which means having a skin check could literally save your life (especially if you live in the bush). Our charity has been passionately promoting early detection since 2010 after our mate Wes Bonny was killed by a suss looking spot on his neck he didn't know was bad until it was too late. Currently, there's no national screening program like they have for other cancers - because there simply isn't enough evidence to support it. Plus, checking a broad section of the population is unfortunately far too costly to justify.  However... with advances in Artificial Intelligence, technology and talent, a more targeted approach for 'at risk communities' is about to be a lot more viable, and we are ready to lead the change.   WHO ARE WE?We are Skin Check Champions (the master charity of a movement called Beard Season). For over a decade we've been working hard to prepare for this moment. Now... together with the Rosemary Bryant AO Research Centre, our tech partner DermEngine by MetaOptima and a growing suite of forward thinking Corporate partners, we're ready to trial a NEW MODEL for a targeted, pop-up skin check program. An initiative which could not only save our health system tens of millions of dollars a year, but thousands of lives from the scourge of skin cancer.  It's an initiative called Project Check Mate. A 'proof of concept' research project which is currently applying for a CRC-P grant, which means any contributions you make now could be doubled - up to $3M - if our grant application is successful. So there's never been a better time to make a meaningful difference.  By signing this petition you'll not only be showing your support for this powerful idea, you'll be helping us find the right partners and funding to make it all a reality. So please, lend your name to this campaign and share it as far and wide as you can. Especially with people and companies who want to help us make melanoma history.  This is a 'ONCE IN A GENERATIONAL OPPORTUNITY' to make a significant, measurable impact on something which kills a lot more people than it needs to. Something we want to perfect in Australia and then share with the rest of the world.  To learn more and make a (tax deductible) contribution, visit: PROJECTCHECKMATE.COM.AU Your signature and support could seriously save a life. Much love, 

Skin Check Champions
6,602 supporters
Stop cuts to holistic mental health care

Thanks to everyone who has signed this petition. The Labor Party is taking this issue very seriously. Labor created Medicare, and we will always defend it. GPs who are helping people with mental health issues at the same time as a physical issue should not be penalised or reprimanded. I have written to Minister Greg Hunt outlining Labor’s position, which can be found below. Chris Bowen MP Shadow Minister for Health ******* Dear Minister, I write regarding your Department's recent letter to some GPs who co-claim MBS Professional Attendance items with GP Mental Health Treatment items. Labor created Medicare, and we have supported previous efforts to ensure that its integrity is not undermined by the very small number of providers who bill inappropriately. However, I am concerned that this intervention has confused many GPs, and risks undermining our shared vision of comprehensive GP care. While the letter was sent to a relatively small number of GPs, you would be aware that many more have been alarmed by its apparent implications. Indeed, the President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has described the letter as "an intimidating and heavy-handed tactic designed to pick on a small group to affect the whole group”. I note that your Department has apologised for the “anxiety and distress” caused by similar letters in the past. | also note that these letters are under review by the Australian National Audit Office, with a report due in May. In response to the letter, GPs have highlighted a range of common situations where providing integrated physical and mental health care is entirely appropriate - and indeed, to be encouraged. I therefore urge you to clarify your Government's policy on this matter, and to assure the vast majority of GPs who bill appropriately that they will not be subject to similar interventions in the future. Yours sincerely, The Hon. Chris Bowen MP Shadow Minister for Health Federal Member for McMahon 17 February 2020

2 years ago