FEATURED NEWS

$100m should go to front-line services, not the W.H.O.

This just epitomises how out of touch our government is. 

Another $100 million being wasted on models and plans that will be thrown out at the first sign of trouble. If you want to be well prepared for health emergencies invest in front line services here in Australia, not command and control bureaucrats in Switzerland. 

More at: foreignminister.gov.au

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee – 26/10/2023
Estimates
FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE PORTFOLIO
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Senator RENNICK: Minister, I note the federal government has committed $100 million to the World Health Organization to prevent, prepare and respond to pandemics. Could you please explain why we’re committing such a large amount of money to the World Health Organization when at the same time we are ignoring the role state governments played in managing COVID here in Australia? Wouldn’t that money be better spent on front-line health services here in Australia?

Dr de Toca : Senator Rennick, it’s a pleasure to see you and converse with you about WHO despite my transfer of departments.

Senator RENNICK: Likewise.

Ms Adams : He’s following you!

Dr de Toca : The $100 million that you referred to comprises two different approaches: there’s $75 million as part of a strategic partnership framework with the WHO, which is $15 million of voluntary contributions per year over the 2022-27 period; and an additional $25 million for the WHO Health Emergencies Program—$21 million for the WHE per se and $4 million for GOARN, which is a public health response network. There are three different streams supporting our commitment to global health architecture that enables a coordinated response to pandemic events like the one we just suffered over the last four years.

Senator RENNICK: Is that money being spent here in Australia on services here, or is that money going to the bureaucracies of the World Health Organization?

Dr de Toca : That money is part of our contribution to the World Health Organization with a particular focus on our immediate region—our commitment to strengthening global health systems in the Indo-Pacific region.

Senator RENNICK: I’m more concerned about strengthening our health system, and I would have thought the best way to do that was to invest in front-line services here in Australia, particularly maternity services—that would be a good example.

Dr de Toca : With respect, I’m not sure that dichotomy is correct—this funding comes from our development assistance funding and, as such, is from a different bucket to the funding that is used locally for domestic health services provision.

Senator RENNICK: Senator Wong, do you think this is an appropriate spending of money?

Senator Wong: Senator, I don’t have everything in front of me, but you would know that this government has put substantially more funding into the domestic health system—through bulk-billing incentives, the investment into Medicare rebates et cetera et cetera—than has been the case for a long time. I appreciate you have a different view about multilateralism and international—

Senator RENNICK: I don’t at all. I know you’ve accused me of that before, but that’s not true. It’s the way the money’s spent.

Senator Wong: Sure. My point is: if the pandemic shows us anything, it’s that there are challenges in which all of humanity have a shared interest, and to have structures which enable us to respond globally is important for the security of Australians.

Senator RENNICK: But health is delivered locally.

Senator Wong: Do I think it’s important to have a functioning World Health Organization? Yes, I do.

Senator RENNICK: I don’t dispute that. It’s a question of how the money is being spent.

Senator Wong: Sure.

Senator RENNICK: It’s not about multilateralism. It’s front-end services versus bureaucracies, and I struggle to understand why you’re spending—

Senator Wong: No. They’re different—

Senator RENNICK: so much on a foreign back-end bureaucracy versus front-end service.

Senator Wong: Alright. Well, that’s a political view. I’ve answered your question.

Senator RENNICK: Okay. Thank you.

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