The Secular Party recognises the need for health services to be accessible and affordable for all citizens, including dental care and prescription medicines. We recognise that multiple funding streams, together with the burden of oversight means that private health insurance, and particularly public subsidies for private health care, are an additional inefficient burden, and should be removed.
We further recognise cost shifting and perverse incentives through the tension between State and Federal Governments as a major problem in providing adequate funding, necessitating thorough reform of Federal-State health arrangements.
Complementary and alternative medicines
Australians spend more money on complementary medicines and therapies than they do on conventional evidence-based medicine. Despite this, there is little or no regulation of such products and treatments. They can be registered or listed with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, but if considered ‘low risk’, the TGA allows such listing without any form of efficacy testing.
Consumers can thus easily be misled by scam therapies that are implausible or defy logic, reason or scientific principles. It is the policy of the Secular Party that the regulatory regime for complementary medicine be tightened with the introduction of evidence-based criteria for registration or listing, and that Medicare rebates not apply to alternative therapies that have not passed tests for safety and efficacy.
Religious organisations and public health
Hospitals and medical services that are owned by religious organisations often display religious paraphernalia and may be inclined to favour medical practices that are influenced by religious doctrine. The Secular Party believes that such institutions that are in receipt of public money should not exhibit bias in favour of any religion. It is the policy of the Secular Party that such organisations be required to ensure that no such bias exists.
The Secular Party endorses all medical research, with appropriate ethical oversight, that benefits humanity. This should not be limited by misguided or religiously inspired ‘sanctity of life’ prohibitions. We do not support research involving animals for purposes such as the development of cosmetics.
The war on drugs has failed. Despite massive efforts to enforce their prohibition, illegal drugs are readily available on the black market. As supply is unregulated there is no quality control over drug production and consequently Australians are dying unnecessarily. Without a source of affordable regulated drugs, addicts are often forced to fund their habits through a range of criminal activities.
The Secular Party policy is that drug use should be treated as a social and health issue rather than as a criminal matter. Many drugs which are currently illegal should be sold legally through government agencies. With dosages standardised and contaminants removed the use of these drugs will be safer. Users will be registered and the government will offer a range of services to help drug users.
To fully investigate this issue it the policy of the Secular Party to establish a Royal Commission that can call upon medical experts to examine successful drug legalisation programmes from around the world with a view to adopting the best practices. This will generate beneficial community discussion as to why change is necessary and will ensure we make the best possible changes.