Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 1897..
MR MULCAHY (continuing):
extended four-day break. This will also impact on Canberra's productivity, services and local business over this period. There is a real possibility that Canberra will turn into a ghost town as people take advantage of the government's decision to appease union members to have a four-day weekend. It is no coincidence, surely, that this decision was announced at the ALP convention.
Whilst the ACT government might argue that this idea is popular with many Canberrans, I am concerned that this decision is, in reality, yet another example of the ACT Labor Party pandering to powerful union bosses after they lost their coveted Union Picnic Day, an event of little relevance to most Canberrans given that fewer than 20 per cent of them are members of a union.
On a more social note—and this is where it has not been thought through—I am not a punter. I have got no moral issue with it; it just does not do much for me. It will see the end of the office sweep because people will not be getting together at the workplace. A lot of people will not go out to the racetrack and it will kill a whole level of camaraderie that has existed in this city on that special day. So whilst I can see the case for having a public holiday in Melbourne, because tens of thousands of people descend on the racetrack to participate in all those events in their hometown, it is not what people in Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Perth and the like find necessary. In fact, it is a great day for the restaurant and hospitality sector and for the hotels that put on lunches.
We are going to see in this case what happened to New Year's Eve: we will cruel it in terms of venues that want to stay open, because it will cost too much. People will shut down. It will be money lost to the economy. It will kill a high level of camaraderie. It is an ill-considered idea. If the minister is going to bring it in, he ought to think about changing it to Labour Day and not ruining Melbourne Cup Day, which will in fact be the consequence.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.01): I want to raise the matter of an event that I attended just the other week, on 16 August. Ms Nerissa Mapes, one of Australia's youngest Parkinson's disease sufferers, presented to Tony Abbott, the Minister for Health and Ageing, at Parliament House the first in-depth study of the economic and social burdens of Parkinson's disease. The report is titled Living with Parkinson's disease: challenges and positive steps for the future and was written by Access Economics for Parkinson's Australia.
The report finds that 55,000 Australians are affected by Parkinson's disease. It is the second most common neurological condition, second only to dementia. A new case of the disease is diagnosed every 56 minutes. My dad suffered from Parkinson's quite severely before he passed away. Unfortunately, towards the end he could not even remember his family, so it had quite an effect on the family.
Parkinson's Australia Chief Executive Officer, Norman Marshall, said that one of the starkest findings from the Access Economics report is the financial cost to the Australian economy, which is estimated to be $527.8 million. In addition, there is the cost of the reduced quality of life due to disability experienced from the disease, the