The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) says the Federal Government’s first budget delivers mixed signals regarding its commitment to preventive health, and to reducing Australia’s burden of disease from smoking and alcohol.
The RACP’s incoming President, Professor Nicholas Talley, welcomed the recent increase in tobacco excise but questioned why the government didn’t take this opportunity in the Budget to do the same for alcohol.
“Raising the tobacco excise has been a positive step that will see thousands more Australians quit or not take up smoking, however we also need action on alcohol,” Professor Talley said.
“The Federal Government must take the lead in developing a national and consistent approach to alcohol taxation policy. Taxing alcoholic drinks by alcohol content has been shown to reduce excessive consumption and the harm that alcohol causes.
“This would be a win-win for both public health and fiscal sustainability due to increased taxation revenue and reduced healthcare costs.”
“The $7 GP co-payment could also have a detrimental impact on preventive health aims, such as the immunisation coverage rates. The Government should be removing barriers to our children being immunised not erecting new ones.
The Government must give a commitment to the Australian people that the termination of the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health and the transfer of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency into the Department of Health does not compromise the commitment to a healthier Australia.
The RACP also welcomes:
•The Government’s support for national palliative care projects and advance care planning, and looks forward to seeing further detail and adequate funding to back up this support.
•Commitment to the review of the National Diabetes Strategy to identify gaps in diabetes prevention and care and develop recommendations for improvements.
•The 12 month continuation of funding for the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record and the commitment to ensuring Australians will get access to a workable and useful system.