Foundations for the Future - The Commonwealth Government's commitment to health and medical research

Page last updated: 08 May 2007

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Letter from the Minister for Health and Ageing

Dear fellow Australian,

A fundamental measure of a progressive society is its commitment to excellence in health and medical research. Australia has long boasted some of the best scientists, researchers and medical pioneers in the world. We are a nation of innovators.

Penicillin – discovered just before WWII – remains pivotal in the treatment of disease around the world today. Our own Howard Florey helped to realise this wonderful breakthrough and began a tradition of home-grown medical research of the highest calibre of which each and every Australian should be proud.

Since then, the successes of our researchers – both as individuals and organisations – have meant less disease, better treatment, improved quality of life and longer lifespans:
  • in 1996, Professor Peter Doherty was awarded a Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his discovery on how the immune system recognises body cells that have become infected with viruses; and
  • in 2005, Perth researchers Robin Warren and Barry Marshall won a Nobel Prize for their discovery of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.
Investment in health and medical research makes good health sense and good economic sense. It has been estimated that every dollar invested in medical research returns five dollars in economic benefits to Australia.

Investing in health and medical research is an investment in Australia’s future – and in our people.

Of course, Australia’s health profile today is vastly different from the days when Florey was supplying the new wonder drug to our troops. Where there was once tuberculosis, polio
and diphtheria, there is now obesity, avian influenza and chronic disease associated with our ageing population.

Once again we will meet these challenges.

The Commonwealth Government has been a consistent supporter of health and medical research over the past decade. From 1995–96 through to 2009–10, there will be a five-fold increase in the Howard Government’s spending in this area.

Public investment in health and medical research is already at record levels.

The Budget delivers well over $400 million to enable clinical and research facilities to improve their capacity to undertake quality work into the causes, diagnosis and prevention
of disease.

This is what our economically successful Government can do. This is what a progressive society does. This is what a good and decent society does.

Tony Abbott

The story so far | Leading the way | At a glance | What we're doing now