Mr Miles said the machines are just like their namesake – fast and intelligent. These new machines will be based at Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton Hospital laboratories, adding to the four Panthers bought earlier this year for the GCUH, Cairns, Townsville and Central Laboratories.

“This new equipment will mean tests will no longer need to be sent to Brisbane from those areas and will dramatically improve turnaround times for a range of important tests, including in the very near future COVID-19.

“Queensland’s laboratory testing is among the best in the world, and we’re continuing to lead the way,” Mr Miles said.

“Our capacity extends across the state, with testing hubs topping and tailing Queensland.

“And this Palaszczuk Government investment of over $897,000 will buy three new Hologic Panther Fusion Instruments to expand testing further, building on its initial investment of $1.098 million for the first four Panthers.”

Currently, the Pathology Queensland Central laboratory, Pathology Queensland Townsville laboratory and FSS Coopers Plains laboratory have the capability to undertake respiratory virus and COVID-19 testing.

“Queensland Health is uniquely placed as a public pathology provider – it has two distinct analytical test platforms and assays, and has plans to install more ,” Mr Miles said.

“This ensures we are well prepared and well placed for all novel coronavirus scenarios as demand increases for worldwide stocks.

“This will support us not just as we continue to respond to COVID-19 in 2020, but for the upcoming influenza season, and COVID-19 over the coming years as the globe continues to learn, diagnose and treat our community.”

The current diagnostic test used to screen for cases of COVID-19 looks for indicators of the virus in samples of people’s sputum, and from specimens from the nose and throat.

Queensland Health uses the gold standard of viral testing, known as Polymerase Chain Reaction testing. This is a three phase test, which involves the extraction, purification, amplification and detection of virus DNA.

Queensland’s two largest private pathology providers Queensland Medical Laboratories (QML) and Sullivan and Nicolaides Pathology (SNP) also have recently developed testing capability and are supporting most of the private sector demand.


On behalf of the MedTech industry, MTAA is collating and sharing information on changes in the supply chain and emerging issues; significant pain points for MedTech businesses; and how company business practices are evolving to respond to COVID-19, particularly in the areas of work-from-home, travel restrictions, face-to-face meetings and business continuity planning.

MTAA is working closely with the government to address emerging supply chain impacts on business and broader industry as a result of COVID-19. The industry is represented on a regular roundtable convened by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, together with other key stakeholders. An initial meeting was held last week, with the second meeting held on Thursday 19 March.

The roundtable is being held to discuss emerging supply chain impacts on business and broader industry as a result of COVID-19. Discussion will focus on what sectors are being impacted by supply chain issues, including how business is managing these challenges. The Minister welcomes any insights or suggestions about the best way forward to ensure business and industry are supported during this time.

MTAA is also engaging closely with the Chief Medical Office and the Federal Health Minister. Most recently this has been regarding the Government’s immediate priorities – the supply of respirators, reagents for testing and also masks. We have also facilitated relevant companies engaging with the Government regarding supply.

These are challenging times for our community, our industry and please take care of yourself and others.


Our events that were scheduled for the near future have been postponed and we plan to conduct webinar events where possible. Our face-to-face training courses, Operating Theatre Protocols, have been postponed.

All committee meetings are now taking place via teleconference/videoconferencing and the majority of MTAA staff are working from home.



  • Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced that all overseas arrivals would be required to self-isolate for 14 days. In order to enforce this, new offences in each state and territory were introduced to enforce the mandatory self-isolation period, with significant fines for those who breach the self-isolation period.
  • In addition, Mr Morrison announced a ban on large public gathering of more than 500 people and recommended that people undertake social distancing measures. As part of these measures, the Government is recommending that people remain at least 1.5 meters away from each other and not undertake unnecessary social contact.


  • The Reserve Bank of Australia announced that it is considering purchasing government bonds following continuing economic pressure due to COVID-19. The purchasing of government bonds by the Reserve Bank is a sign that there are significant economic issues as government bonds are risk-free investment, and investors are flocking to them given that the ASX 200 was down 9.7% on Monday and fell by more than 10% last week.
  • The Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Western Australia all announced that they were entering a state of emergency due to COVID-19. The state of emergency will give each state and territories Chief Health Officer the power to enforce the 14-day self-isolation period as well as a ban on gatherings of over 500 people. The state of emergency in each state and territory is initially set to last for four weeks and may last further depending on how COVID-19 develops.
  • In addition to the state of emergency, WA Premier, the Hon Mark McGowan MP announced a range of measures designed to stimulate the WA economy and mitigate the impact of COVID-19. As part of the package, WA residents will see their household charges frozen including electricity, water and vehicle registration. In addition, WA small and medium businesses will also receive relief, with previously proposed changes to payroll tax being fast tracked by six months.
  • After news emerged last week that the Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Peter Dutton MP had tested positive for COVID-19, he announced that he had departed hospital after being cleared. However, news broke that Mr Dutton’s Coalition colleague and Senator for Queensland, Senator Susan McDonald, had tested positive for COVID-19. Senator McDonald began feeling unwell on Friday 13 March 2020, and has since tested positive and was admitted to hospital as a result.
  • A range of Australian sporting events have been affected by coronavirus, especially following the Government’s announcement of new social distancing measures. Football Federation Australia and the NRL announced that each of their respective seasons would continue behind close doors, while the AFL announced that they would be reducing the length of their season, with only 17 rounds where every team will play each other once. This is in addition to Super Rugby suspending their league due to COVID-19.
  • Woolworths and Coles have introduced an elderly shopping hour from 7am to 8am every day in order to mitigate the effects of panic buying which has seen mass shortages of essential items including toilet paper, rice and pasta. In addition, Coles announced that it was bringing on an additional 5,000 new casual staff who will help stock shelves and serve customers.
  • RSL branches in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia have cancelled ANZAC Day commemorations in order to protect veterans and ensure compliance with the new social distancing guidelines. Some dawn services will still be held across the country, but members of the public will be asked to not attend.


  • It was announced that the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP and the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP had come to an agreement to significantly pare down the number of MPs present in Canberra for next week’s sittings. It was announced that only 90 MPs will be present in Canberra next week, with 30 MPs from both major parties staying home. At this stage, the Government has not announced what will happen with the Senate.
  • NSW Premier, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP has announced a $2.3 billion stimulus package including extra funding for additional health measures as well as payroll tax relief for business with payrolls of up to $10 million. NSW Health will receive $700 million to boost a range of services across NSW. Other measures include a waiving of fees and charges for small businesses, increased funding for schools to hire cleaners and $750 million spent on capital works and maintenance of public assets.
  • Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the resulting decline in international and domestic travel, Qantas and Jetstar announced that they were significantly reducing their capacity, with the airline cutting 90% of its international services and reducing its domestic capacity by 60% at least until the end of May 2020. As a result, Qantas has grounded 150 aircraft and announced that the measures would affect its entire workforce of 30,000 people. Qantas has workers may be forced to utilise their paid leave allowances or take unpaid leave due to its decision.
  • Tasmania has declared a Public Health Emergency due to COVID-19, following the declaration of a state of emergency in the ACT, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia. The Public Health Emergency gives the Director of Public Health, Dr Mark Veitch, the power to quarantine, isolate or evacuate people. At this stage, Tasmanian Premier, the Hon Peter Gutwein MP, has said he will not declare a state of emergency, with Tasmania only having seven confirmed cases of COVID-19. Hobart’s Museum of New and Old Art has also announced that it will be closing due to the risk of COVID-19.
  • A third federal parliamentarian has contracted COVID-19, with reports breaking that Senator for NSW, Senator Andrew Bragg, contracting the virus. Senator Bragg suspected that he contracted COVID-19 while attending a friend’s wedding at Stanwell Tops on 6 March 2020.


  • ­Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced a range of stringent measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. As part of the measures, Mr Morrison announced that there would be further restrictions placed on large gatherings of people, with a maximum of 100 people allowed in a single indoor area under new measures. The 500-person limit remains for gatherings that take place outdoors. Furthermore, Mr Morrison announced that there would be restrictions on visits to aged care facilities, with residents allowed to have a maximum of two visitors daily. Other measures included the introductions of an indefinite travel ban, as well as utilising 20,000 student nurses in Australia by lifting work restrictions.
  • Minister for Finance and Leader of the Government in Senate, Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann released a statement regarding the operation of the ‘scaled-back’ parliamentary sittings that are scheduled to take place next week. Despite confirming the news which broke on Tuesday which said will only be 90 members in the House of Representatives, with 30 pairs of MPs from the major parties staying home, Senator Cormann had no further updates on the operation of the Senate, saying that arrangements would be released later in the week following consultation with Labor and the Senate Crossbench.
  • Australia had its sixth death from COVID-19, with NSW Health officials confirming that an 86-year-old man died in hospital. This death is the fifth fatality from COVID-19 in NSW, with Australia’s only other death occurring in WA, after a 78-year-old man passed from the virus after contracting it on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was stranded off the coast of Japan. NSW still has the highest concentration of cases in Australia, with 270 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday.
  • NT Chief Minister, Mr Michael Gunner MP, announced a $65 million stimulus package primarily focused on ensuring that individuals and small businesses are able to cope with the effects of COVID-19. As part of the package, Mr Gunner announced $20 million scheme that would allow businesses to upgrade and improve their storefronts. In addition, $5 million has been allocated for not-for-profits, community organisations and clubs receive funding for repairs and renovations as well as $30 million for home improvement and a freeze on government fees, charges and electricity prices until July 2021.
  • Virgin Australia announced that they would be grounding all of their international services from 30 March 2020 until 14 June 2020 and will be also cutting domestic capacity by 50 per cent effective immediately until 14 June 2020. Virgin Australia has been hit hard by COVID-19 and Virgin’s stock price falling over 50 per cent in the last month. Similar to Qantas, Virgin Australia has indicated that its entire workforce will feel the affects of COVID-19, with full-time workers being asked to transition to part-time temporarily as well as people being asked to take existing leave or take unpaid leave.


  • Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced all foreigner travellers will be banned from entering Australia from 9:00pm AEDT on Friday. The ban applies to all non-citizens and non-residents. Australians will still be able to return from overseas but they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia has cut official interest rates to a record low of 0.25 per cent as it seeks to protect the economy from the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The Morrison government is in the process of finishing a second round of economic stimulus, badged as a multibillion-dollar “safety net” package. The package would be in addition to $17.6bn in economic measures in response to the downturn caused by Covid-19, on top of a $2.4bn health package.
  • Qantas announced it will be suspending all international flights and standing down two-thirds of its 30,000 workers in the face of the escalating COVID-19 pandemic. Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce says the coronavirus outbreak will hit Australia’s economy harder than the global financial crisis with Qantas staff potentially being redeployed to stock supermarket shelves.
  • Home Affairs Minister, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, has vowed to ‘come down like a ton of bricks’ on possible crime syndicates who have been busing it out to regional supermarkets and clearing out shelves. Minister Dutton indicated there was an operation underway with federal, NSW and Victorian police, and border force involved to crack down on hoarders selling essential items on the black market.


  • Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the Government will not be able to table the budget until the first Tuesday in October. The Prime Minister also confirmed the national cabinet had agreed to a cap of one person per four square metres for indoor gatherings, including in pubs, cafes and restaurants, as was recommended by Australia’s chief medical officers. The national cabinet will also consider adopting further travel restrictions next week.
  • With Treasurer, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, admitting it would be hard for Australia to avoid its first recession in 29 years, the RBA cut official interest rates to 0.25 per cent, revealed plans to buy government debt to keep borrowing rates low and said it would lend at least $90 billion to banks on the condition they passed on that cash to small and medium sized businesses.
  • Australia has more than 700 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with four confirmed cases in the ACT. There have been six deaths and 41 recoveries as of this morning. The fourth ACT patient contracted the virus while travelling in the US and has been in isolation since returning home. The ACT government will announce a $137 stimulus package, which Chief Minister Andrew Barr hopes will save jobs and deliver immediate relief to individuals and sectors most severely affected by measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Health authorities in NSW have confirmed another death from coronavirus, bringing the state’s total COVID-19 fatalities to six. NSW Health said an 81-year-old woman with the virus died last night. There have been 46 new coronavirus infections in NSW in the past day, taking the state’s total number of cases to 353.

Private Health Insurance claims on Medical Device Pricing Debunked

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The analysis shows a difference between public and private pricing of medical devices of $305.7 million. The MTAA says this is considerably less than the entirely misleading fake claim of $800 million made by the taxpayer subsidised private health insurance industry.

It shows there is a total differential of 15.3% between public pricing and private pricing of medical devices.

There are many factors which influence the costs of prostheses between the two markets including:

  • In the public sector, prostheses are mostly purchased through tendering arrangements with a focus on bulk purchasing and limited prostheses that enables lower costs and lower pricing;
  • Private hospital purchasing is generally based on a single purchase at a time based on surgeon preference;
  • The level of regulatory hurdles in the private sector delays market entry which comes at a significant cost to the medical device industry given the relatively short life cycle of devices due to the high rate of incremental innovation; and
  • The level of technical manufacturer support required is significantly higher in the private market for certain products, for example for cardiac devices. In the private health services, this support is largely provided by the medical device companies while in public health services these activities are delivered by public hospitals.

The PL contributes significantly to the key value propositions of private health insurance (PHI) for consumers over the public hospital sector — choice of medical device.

The PL represents only 14% of PHI expenditure for hospital cover policies compared to hospital benefits which comprise 70% of the costs and medical service benefits which comprise 16% of these costs.

The growth in the average PL benefit has fallen by 20% in real terms since March 2007. This means patients are getting at least 20% better value from the PL than they were 10 years ago.

Meanwhile, PHI premiums have increased on average by 54.6% since 2009, with more increases to come according to PHI CEOs which will only further increase their profits.

Ian Burgess, Chief Executive Officer of the Medical Technology Association of Australia said:

“MTAA and its members recognise the importance of PL reform and increased transparency but it needs to be based on facts and not fiction when it comes to evidence.

“This analysis represents almost 80% of the PL expenditure and is the most comprehensive and robust data set that exist incorporating 6958 of the 10454 products on the PL.

“The PHI industry is the only industry in Australia that receives over $6 billion in taxpayer funded subsidies every year, and guaranteed price increases above inflation every year.

“We saw evidence to a recent Senate Committee where a major PHI player confirmed that its return on equity was 29% which is nearly double that of the banks. Yet apparently, the prostheses list is the problem?

“Patients should not have healthcare options available to them curtailed in the name of taxpayer subsidised profits.

“MTAA is working with Government to deliver reforms which improve patients access to the best medical devices in the private system.”


MedTech Industry pleased by skilled VISA changes

The Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) said it was pleased with today’s announcement by Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton MP, to reinstate key medical technology (MedTech) occupations back on the temporary and permanent skilled visas list effective from 1 July 2017.

MTAA member companies employ thousands of Australian workers and strongly support a skilled visa system that compliments the Australian workforce and adds additional skills, capacity and attractiveness to invest in the Australian industry.

The MedTech sector has been identified by the Government as a growth industry, to build the Australian economy in the post-mining boom era.

However, the Australian MedTech sector is part of the larger global eco-system, with companies benefiting from drawing on highly skilled overseas workforce critical to growing the capability of the sector.

Just as Australian MedTech talent will travel overseas to build on their own experience by exposure to larger and more innovative centres, many will ultimately return to Australia.

The MTAA’s own research showed the industry in Australia employs over 19,000 high skill workers, across 500 companies, the majority of which are small to medium enterprises (SME).

Ian Burgess, Chief Executive Officer of the Medical Technology Association of Australia said:

“We’re pleased by the Minister’s decision to reinstate key MedTech occupations back on the skilled visa categories.”

“It shows the Government is listening to our industry that worked collaboratively with the entire medical technologies, biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals sector to highlight the impact the original decision would have had on our member companies.”

“We are particularly pleased by the decision to restore a pathway to permanent residency for 457 visas on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List.”

MedTech in innovation push throughout Australia

NSW In NSW the Premier and Deputy Premier on Thursday unveiled a $35million investment for the establishment of the Sydney Startup Hub. With more than 40% of Australia’s start-ups already based in NSW, the new hub on York Street in the Sydney CBD seeks to bolster the technology ecosystem in the state with over 11 floors and the hope of accommodating upwards of 6500 new jobs.

QLD This coincides with an announcement from Queensland where the CSIRO opened a Data61 office in Central Brisbane. Data61 seeks to seed new data-driven business innovations over the coming 15–20 years, including e-health, data for advanced medical technology as well as medical software platforms.

The Queensland Government’s flagship $420 million Advance Queensland initiative is also continuing to drive economic growth, create jobs and improve the lives of Queenslanders by backing cutting edge innovation projects.

SA The South Australian Government has witnessed Flinders University sign a MOU with Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to create an international Medical Devices Partnership Program (MDPP). The MDPP-Partnership 2025 aims to build additional research and development partnerships between Singapore and Australia, through the commercialisation of research among agencies, academic institutions and the private sector.

Aussie Cattle Key to Global Medical Technology Innovation

A number of cattle farms in northern New South Wales and the Toowoomba region in Queensland, are playing a world leading role in this cutting edge medical technology.

The story follows the journey of the bovine pericardium tissue through to the creation of artificial heart valves, known as transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) and how patients are benefiting.

The aortic valve is like a one-way door leading out of the heart. The TAVI is used in the treatment of aortic stenosis. This is a progressive disease that occurs with a narrowing of the patient’s aortic valve opening due to a build up of calcium or cholesterol which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood through the valve.

Around four in every 1,000 people are thought to have aortic stenosis.

The TAVI is inserted into the heart via the femoral artery in the groin and inserted inside the effected artery. This replaces invasive open-heart surgery that for some patients might not even be an option.

As Prince Charles Hospital director of cardiology, Professor Darren Walters says:“The problem with this condition is it’s a bit like being slowly strangled.”

This technology is game-changing in the treatment of this condition and Australian cattle industry is playing a critical role in this amazing MedTech industry success story.

The Australian processing facility — Australian Country Choice (ACC) — with world-class facilities and strict quality and hygiene controls measures prepares for daily chilled air freight shipments to Edwards Lifesciences facilities in Singapore and California.

The tissue then undergoes 12–18 hours of individual labour for each valve to be hand sewn into the artificial valve.

To date, more than 150,000 patients have been treated with Edwards Lifesciences transcatheter valves by multi-disciplinary Heart Teams worldwide.

Ian Burgess, Chief Executive Officer of the Medical Technology Association of Australia said:

“The Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) applauds the Medtech industry partnering with the agriculture sector to deliver life saving technology to the world.

“We’re pleased that earlier this year the newer TAVI was approved by the Medical Services Advisory Committee, however, but both Europe and the US approved this technology several years ago.

“We know the regulatory environment could be improved to fast track patient access to medical devices. That’s why it’s critical the recommendations of the Expert Review of Medicines and Medical Devices Regulation be progressed.

“Currently, the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2016 Measures №1) Bill 2016 is awaiting approval in the Senate, and this Bill will deliver on some of the recommendations of the Expert Review.

“Australia has many of the right attributes to grow a strong domestic MedTech industry — a significant health and medical research and manufacturing capability, quality health system, highly skilled workforce and access to the growing middle-class markets of Asia.

“The industry could be a key pillar of the Australian economy by creating jobs of the future.”