WA Labor puts medical research on the election agenda with $1 billion promise

WA Labor puts medical research on the election agenda with $1 billion promise

21st February, 2017

Western Australian Labor Leader Mark McGowan has put health and medical research front and centre of the WA election campaign with the promise of a $1.1 billion Future Health Research and Innovation (HRI) Fund.

Professor Peter Leedman, Director of the Perkins Institute, an AAMRI member, said the fund could be described in three words: inspirational, transformational and visionary.

“It’s great to hear senior politicians being passionate and committed to medical research and investment in innovation, and linking that to better health outcomes,” Professor Leedman said after the announcement about the HRI fund was made at The Perkins.

“The proposed fund would create new jobs, help recruit and retain the very best medical researchers in WA, and change the science landscape in this state.

“This HRI fund is a vision that goes beyond election cycles; it’s long-range thinking, and that’s what we need to help find the new cures and treatments for debilitating diseases.”

According to the WA Labor proposal, the current WA Future Fund would be re-purposed to create an investment fund, with annual interest of around $35 million generated from this fund being made available, by application, for high quality research projects, and growing WA’s health and scientific communities as global leaders in medical research and innovation.

The HRI fund would have a focus on research relating to cancers, child health and other diseases in which WA has an international standing, and an Actuarial Board of accomplished individuals would be appointed to oversee it.

WA Labor also promised to develop a cancer research plan that would improve cancer research and treatment over the next decade. The plan would include consulting scholars, researchers, consumers, carers and medical research stakeholders to reach agreement on a long-term strategic approach to cancer research in the state.

Telethon Kids Institute Director Professor Jonathan Carapetis, an AAMRI Board member, also welcomed the proposal for the HRI fund, saying the fund would be a strong commitment to Western Australia’s future.

“Significant medical research is underway in WA, including in areas of critical importance to the state, such as Aboriginal health issues such as early child development, ear infections and rheumatic heart disease,” Professor Carapetis said. “This fund could help us go a long way to closing the gap in health outcomes.”

AAMRI President Professor Tony Cunningham said the proposed HRI fund would represent one of the most significant new investments in health and medical research by a state government for many years.

“It’s wonderful to see such forward thinking through investing in health and medical research, and I look forward to hearing the WA Liberals’ plans in this area,” Professor Cunningham said. “The pharmaceuticals and medical devices sector is the best-performing smart industry in Australia, so it offers significant returns to state governments in employment terms.

“Just last week we had substantial funding announcements from Victoria and New South Wales in regard to clinical trials and cancer, and we welcome these commitments.

“While our medical researchers work to save the lives of Australians, and those around the world, the economic benefits of their research are also well known, and growing. Not only does this research lead to treatments that save lives, it also leads to reduced costs through improved diagnostics, leading to more targeted treatments and better understanding of conditions that can prevent them from occurring in the first place.

“Funding health and medical research is one of the best investments a government can make, be it at a state or federal level.”