My heart is with those who have been affected by the devastating fires in affected areas of New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania.
These fires are unprecedented and while we are prepared, well organised and well resourced, the rapidly escalating damage and the heart-breaking human cost calls for nothing less than an all-out response.
Thankfully for my constituents, we have been spared the worst of the fires, however I’m closely monitoring conditions.
High temperatures forecast for the southeast of the country will increase fire danger, and I know firefighters are continuing backburning efforts and other work to bring the fires under control.
The Government is providing immediate and longer-term financial support to fire-affected communities.
The bushfire crisis is the Australian Defence Force’s main effort, with several thousand full time and reserve personnel providing direct support in the field, at sea, in the air, and from Defence bases across fire affected regions.
In times like these, we have to work together and look out for each other, and remember that we need to follow advice from local emergency management authorities. I also ask that we all be kind and considerate to one another, particularly on social media. This is an incredibly tough time for so many people.
New PBS listing for breast cancer patients
Australians living with advanced breast cancer now have access to an important new treatment option, with the Coalition Government listing a life-changing new medicine on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
On 1 January, Verzenio® 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. We have one of the highest survival rates for breast cancer in the world, with the five-year survival rate at almost 91 per cent.
Since 2013, the Government has approved close to 2,300 new or amended listings on the PBS, at an overall investment by the Government of $10.9 billion.
First home buyers
Eligible first home buyers can now apply for a guaranteed loan as part of the 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.
Eligible first home buyers can apply for a guaranteed loan directly from one of the 27 participating lenders. 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 in the Parkes electorate.
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.