Zero Childhood Cancer Initiative announcement, Randwick, Sydney


Well thank you very much Les. Sussan and I are delighted to be here. We are really thrilled to be here. Les has been involved in paediatrics for 40 years he said. I think we’ve been - Lucy and I have known you for a very large percentage of those 40 years. The work that you and your colleagues have done here at the Sydney Children’s Hospital and Children’s Cancer Institute is truly inspiring.

This is a place where you find the biggest hearts and the biggest brains. That’s what children’s medicine is about. That’s what all of you do. You bring all of your humanity and all of your love to treating these children here at the Sydney Children’s Hospital and of course at all of the children’s hospitals that are represented here and that were part of this Zero Childhood Cancer Initiative.

Great love, great clinical care, are bringing all of your powerful intellects to bear to ensure that we get better and better at identifying and curing children's cancer. The goal is to have zero childhood cancer.

Michelle Haber, what a remarkable initiative you are leading here. Sussan and I are so proud on behalf of your Government to be supporting this. I hope many other Australians will do so as well.

This is a great endeavour - Zero Childhood Cancer.

Using the science and the technology of the 21st century, genomics to understand each and every cancer in all of its particularity, in all of its special diversity, to find its fatal flaw, its Achilles heel, that will enable us, you, the scientists and doctors and clinicians, to target those cancers with a treatment that is so specific it takes out the cancer but does not have the very toxic effects that broader spectrum, broader brush chemotherapies have particularly, on all patients, but particularly on patients that are as young as the children that are treated here at the hospital.

My Government has a massive commitment to medical research. As you know in addition to the nearly billion dollars invested by the National Health and Medical Research Council, we also have Medical Research Future fund, that is committing $400 million over the forward estimates, over the next four years and our goal is by 2020 it will be investing an additional $1 billion a year into medical research.

This is a vital part of our commitment to a strong, healthy and prosperous society. Of course there is no better way to secure our future than by securing the health of our children.

Little Lulu there with all of her vitality has a whole life ahead of her. She has given me some of her paintings.

I know that with the care she has here she will grow up to be a great painter. Not just with textas and paper but she will do great things and all of these children will. The strong medicine, the great research here will enable them to do it.

This is also at the cutting edge of science. This is the 21st century economy. That is what secures our future; constantly pushing the frontiers of knowledge, constantly pushing the frontiers of innovation. Never being satisfied with what we have reached. Never being put off by ‘we have always done it that way’ or you know, ‘not invented here’. Always being prepared to challenge, established ways of treatment, always being prepared to look at a new approach.

That dynamism, that innovation, that energy, that combination of the big brains and the big hearts - that is what is so inspiring here. We are delighted to be supporting it with $20 million for this initiative and we, Michelle and to all of your colleagues here, we are with you. We are with you in total solidarity.

What you are doing is securing our future, changing lives, saving lives, creating that fairer, that better society that all of us are committed to. Around here you have the best of Australia; so much passion, so much intellect, so much optimism, so much preparedness to strike out into new frontiers. Well done. Sussan and I are so proud to be supporting you all today.

Thank you.



What a great day here. A great day for families, for children, science, medicine, for the big hearts and big brains we’re supporting here. We’re able to support the great scientific work done here at the Children’s Cancer Institute, at the Sydney Children’s Hospital and around the country because we have a strong economy. Ensuring we continue to have a strong economy, delivering on our national economic plan, enables us to raise the revenues to provide the support of the kind we’re doing today. That's what enables us to have great hospitals. That's what enables us to have great research. The suggestion that there is a conflict between a strong economy and successful businesses and supporting medical research is absolutely false. It could not be more wrong.

Without a strong economy, you don't, you simply don't have the tax base, the revenues, to pay for research like this. On the subject of a strong economy, I note that we have our net exports figure out today. We've had, we're seeing, strong evidence of our transitioning economy. What we're seeing here is the benefit of our big trade export deals, a key part of our national economic plan. As we diversify our economy and we move to one that is less dependent on the mining construction boom. As that recedes we need stronger growth in other sectors and we're seeing that right across the board.

We've seen in the quarter 4.4 percent growth in exports, that's very impressive. 6.6 per cent growth over the year and I draw your attention to the very strong growth in services exports which of course includes tourism, 6.1 per cent over the quarter and 14 per cent over the year. So our national economic plan is already working.

What we're asking the Australian people for on the 2nd of July is the mandate to complete that economic plan. To stick with our plan and deliver on the strong economic growth, the growth in our economy, the growth in jobs, that secures our future. Because it provides the revenues we need, enables us to support the future of the children here for whom a cure for their cancers will be found with this great initiative that we are backing today, with an additional $20 million.


First on cancer. What will this $20 million mean? What sort of research will we see and what it mean for someone like Lulu who you spent some time with this morning?


What it means is that the treatment for many cancers is rather broad brush. The chemotherapies are highly toxic drugs as you know. They will very often kill the cancers but they do a lot of damage, can do a lot of damage, to the patient. That's particularly a problem with children. You know, they're little people, they're not as strong, they’re not as resilient as adults. So what the genomics work that is being done - and we saw some of the frozen cells in the lab a little while ago - what that enables us to do, or enables the scientists to do, is to isolate these cells, to isolate the particular flaws as Professor Marshall was saying, identify the flaws in those cancers that enable them to be targeted with drugs and therapies that are completely specific to them. So what that may mean for Lulu and many other kids like her, that the treatment he will be able to get is going to be really targeted at the particular condition.


To follow up on Dan’s question. Given the cut and thrust of politics has been pretty brutal the last three weeks, what would it mean to you to be able to take time away and how did these kids affect you personally?


This is a pretty raw place emotionally. I have always, Lucy and I have been associated with supporting the Sydney Children's Hospital for many, many years. I know Les White said he'd been in paediatrics for 40 years, I think we've known him for most of these years. This is big hearts and big brains, you know. This is every parent's nightmare, to have a sick child. To be confronted with some of these childhood cancers, which are very challenging from a clinical point of view - some of them have very low survival rates, we know that - and this is heartbreaking stuff. So really, there is no greater work being done in medicine than what's being done here. What could be more important than aiming to have zero childhood cancers? The key is genomics, the key is being able to identify the structure of each cancer and then be able to develop the silver bullet that actually takes that cancer out, as distinct from other cancers and doesn't affect the rest of the child’s body and systems and so forth.


Is it acceptable during an election campaign that your deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop could not explain one of the Government's key changes to superannuation affecting the transition to retirement scheme?


Well I'm happy to explain the transition to retirement changes if you like, but I think you'll find superannuation is notoriously an area of great complexity. The change is simply this , that when people move generally at around 56 and obviously before they get to 65, they can move into what's called transition to retirement, which provides concessions in the way they can effectively take a pension while they're still working. That's what it does. At the moment, the earnings on the account that is part of that transition to retirement arrangement - the “TRIS” in fact is what it is normally called - at the moment those earnings are not taxed. Under the changes in the Budget which are designed to make super fairer and more flexible, they will be taxed at 15%. It is still a very concessional rate of tax and as Julie has said, as I've said, as everybody knows, our changes to super mean that 96% of Australians in the super system are either better off or unaffected. So yes it does affect a small percentage and I can understand why people are disappointed by that. But the consequence is that the system is fairer and more fit for purpose.


Prime Minister how can you say you support climate science when the CSIRO is cutting between a third and a half of its climate scientists on your watch?


The CSIRO is at the forefront of climate research and there is - they have made decisions and it's their decision, not the Government's, I want to stress that, it has a very distinguished board chaired by David Thodey, former chief executive of Telstra - and the decisions they've taken is essentially one of allocation of resources. Climate science is a huge field. There's obviously research into what's happening in the climate, where warming is occurring, how far it’s affecting the ocean and so forth. There is research into mitigation, what measures are going to be most effective. There's also, very importantly for Australia, research into adaptation, how do we become more resilient. So all of those areas are being covered and the CSIRO has got to determine its own priorities.


Would you agree that Pauline Hanson is a known quantity in Australian politics and can you rule out negotiating or horse trading with her, with you as Prime Minister?


Pauline Hanson has always been a very – Pauline Hanson is as far as we are concerned not a welcome presence on the Australian political scene. You’ve got to remember she was chucked out of the Liberal Party.


Bill Shorten has ramped up his attack again on your record of economic record of today, saying you're endangering the country's AAA credit rating.


Oh right.


How do you respond to Bill Shorten and should Australians embrace themselves for weak figures in the tomorrow's national accounts stats?


Let me deal with what Mr Shorten and what he has said here today. We've got to look at what the Labor Party did. Let's be quite clear. When we left office in 2007, we left the nation with no net debt. There was cash in the bank. Tens of billions of it, $50 billion cash in the bank. Labor spent all that, ran up a huge mountain of debt and left us with a budget deficit, a structural deficit that we have been struggling to reduce and the struggle has been largely with the Labor Party and its Greens and other supporters in the Senate who have resisted, as you know our savings measures. That's the first point.

The second point I’d make is that Mr Shorten has no plan for economic growth at all. What he has - he is declaring war on business, he is trying to suggest that somehow or other there is a conflict between a strong economy and successful businesses who are paying tax and spending money on health and schools. When in fact, you can't do one without the other. Every Australian understands that. You need a strong economy, you need people going to work, you need people starting businesses . The companies that will be deprived of a tax cut if he were to win office, will be in the first year, businesses with a turnover of $10 million or less, in the second year $25 million or less and the third year $50 million or less and then there'll be another election.

And if we were re-elected then it would be businesses with $100 million or less and so on and it would not be until eight years that all Australian companies would get a tax cut of 27.5% and not for 11 years until they get to the 25%. Now, we have set out a series of enterprise tax measures and they're very well considered and they are targeted and prioritised on small and medium businesses and Mr Shorten's opposing them as well. He is taking a thoroughly anti-business approach and that can only lead to slower economic growth, a weaker economy, weaker revenues for the government, tax revenues for the government and less money to spend on schools and hospitals.


Prime Minister, how is it fair for you to defend your Liberal Deputy for not knowing a key part of the Budget, clearly not knowing the detail of a key part of the Budget, when you so roundly attacked David Feeney, you and others for not even knowing policy or costings decision within days of PEFO? Isn't there a double standard?


I just say to you the reality is about the superannuation changes that we propose is they make superannuation fairer and more flexible. They either benefit or do not affect 96% of Australians. The details of superannuation, it is very complex, it's very complex now, but I’ll say this to you - it's not very complex to know whether you own a $2.3 million negatively geared house. Most people can work that out. And Mr Feeney knew that – it’s just that he didn't want to tell anyone about it. So that is what the shadow minister, this is the man, the shadow minister, one of Mr Shorten's great allies who of course has been attacking negative gearing. That's another thing that Bill Shorten's going to do to restrain economic growth. Let's not kid ourselves. This is the most anti-business Labor leader we have seen in a very long time. Everything he's proposing is going to slow investment and reduce employment, and reduce the capacity of the government to raise the revenues to pay for this hospital and this research.


Bill Shorten today has confirmed that under him those earning more than $180,000 will pay a tax rate of 49 cents in the dollar for the next decade. We hear a lot about fairness. Is that fair?


No, it's not fair. What it is, as you know we introduced a deficit levy which brought it up to 49% for three years. But look, we have a very progressive tax system in the sense that the more you earn the more tax you pay. We have a means tested social welfare system. That is why income inequality - while obviously there is income inequality in Australia - it is much less than it is for example in the United States; because of the combination of a very progressive tax system and means tested benefits. That's to the great credit. But equally, you have to make sure that you provide real incentives for people to earn and invest and to work. That is critical. To have in perpetuity, saying to people who earn more than $180,000 they have to give one cent less than 50 cents in the dollar to the taxman, that is a very symbolic figure.

You're basically saying if you earn more than $180,000, half of what you earn goes to the Government. Now that is a lot of money. These are questions of judgement. Clearly. People will have different views on it. There are people on the left in the Greens I’m sure - that Mr Shorten may be snuggling up to - that would probably like to see even higher tax rates than that. My judgement and I think the judgement of most Australians is that you've got to strike a balance. You’ve got to strike a balance so that you grow the pie and then make sure that everyone gets a fair share of it.

But you've got to be very careful that in your efforts to go after people earning over $180,000 or going after business, which is what Mr Shorten is currently campaigning against, you’ve got to be very careful that you don't end up shrinking the whole pie. The story of successful governments - and I count our Government, our Coalition Government as a successful one in this regard - is that you've got to grow the economy. Because that then gives you the capacity to provide the incentives, to provide the opportunities, and you then can raise the taxes to pay for the Children's Cancer Institute’s Zero Childhood Cancer program. Without those revenues you can't do it.

You see what Mr Shorten is doing is he is assuming. He’s just taking the economy as an assumption. He just assumes that without any effort on his part, the economy will remain strong, that he will be able to levy higher taxes and there'll be no reaction. He has got this view that you can increase taxes on investment, you can increase taxes on income, you can refuse to give small and medium businesses a tax cut - let alone large ones - and that that will have no effect. Well he's kidding himself. The truth is Governments need to provide incentives for growth and we've done that. That's what our national economic plan does. Innovation and science, investment in research, trade export deals. Look at those trade figures.

Just think of this; where would we be with those trade figures today, if Labor had had its way and there hadn't been a China-Australia free trade agreement? They campaigned against that. The unions ran a bitter television campaign against that. It was only at the last minute that the parliamentary Labor Party rolled over. Let's not kid ourselves. Mr Shorten is waging a war against business and enterprise. Australians know that you need strong businesses, strong investment, lots of jobs, a strong economy, because that provides the revenues that enables us to do all of the things we need to do including finding cures for childhood cancer.

Thank you very much.