Department of Health officials confirmed at Senate Estimates this morning they only found out about the Abbott government’s plans for a Medical Research Future Fund weeks before it was announced in the Budget.
Officials also confirmed the Department did not provide any advice on the structure of the Fund and could not answer what quantum would have to be cut from Health in order to establish it.
Despite the fund being administered by the Department of Health, it only found out about it in April – just weeks before it was announced in the Budget on May 13.
Officials also confirmed there was no guarantee that the Fund will not supplant existing National Health and Medical Research Council funding which is not quarantined.
Nor was there a guarantee that the Fund would invest in preventive or translational research.
‘The policy development process reads more like a script forThe Hollowmen than the way an ‘adult government’ conducts itself’, Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King said.
‘This Fund has merely been established to distract from the $80 billion cuts to hospitals and schools and new taxes on doctor visits and medicines’.
This white elephant is quickly becoming emblematic of Tony Abbott’s policy development process.