World leaders gather on the eve of Queen’s funeral; Labor urged to act on paid parental leave

Health Minister Mark Butler said Thursday’s public holiday is “an important day to mourn the loss of the Queen of Australia” while acknowledging the plight of patients whose surgeries have been cancelled.

“It will have an impact on the community. There is no doubt about it,” he told reporters in Adelaide earlier today.

“But it’s an incredibly important day for us to mourn the loss of the Queen.”

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler. Credit:Luis Ascui

Meanwhile, the Labor leader has revealed that pandemic leave payments of up to $540 for people forced to self-isolate with COVID-19 without sick leave, extended last week by the national cabinet, could continue at- beyond December.

“During the rest of this year, we will consider the need to extend the measures beyond the end of the 2022 calendar. And we will have more to say on this. [at a later date]”, Butler said.

“We will have to keep certain measures.”

However, he is said to be undecided whether the government will agree to GPs’ demands for Medicare reimbursements to be increased in line with inflation – saying that while ‘financial pressure on GP is a recurring theme’ in his discussions with GPs – “I really don’t want to prejudge the outcome”.

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Butler, while announcing additional $1.4 billion in COVID-19 funding focused on elderly care, GPs and testing, added that PPE in the national medical stock is ‘running out’ and that $352 million of the money is intended to buy more than 250 million items like face masks, gloves and visors.

“This stock has been a very important source [of] personal protective equipment or PPE during a pandemic,” the minister said.

“It’s running out and we need to restock it over the rest of the year to meet demand over the rest of 2022, but also to secure supply next year.”