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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (23 March) . . Page.. 709 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

people to speak to. I was obviously concerned that the submissions, when they did go out, were not used as some sort of rallying cry for the people who were opposed to immunisation because, quite clearly, all the information was not there.

As I said, Mr Speaker, I am a father of young children. I would not at any stage put their health or their lives at risk. In fact, I think by immunising my children I am enabling diseases which are preventable to be wiped out. The antics of these lunatics on the fringe, Mr Speaker, should be exposed. I think their behaviour has been deplorable. I just hope that the health committee, when looking at this issue, realises that information like this must go out in a balanced way. If they are going to publish anything, I suggest that they publish information from the experts. I am not one of them and I suggest that they speak to the AMA. I have had a disagreement with Ms Tucker about this via the media it appears because she chose not to speak to me when she went public with it last week.

Ms Tucker: Rubbish. I have talked to you about it a lot.

MR OSBORNE: You have not spoken to me recently. You mouthed off last week and I was on the defensive. Nevertheless, Mr Speaker, I am prepared to forgive her. That is the way that the Greens operate. They watch The X-Files far too much. They think there is a conspiracy in everything. All jokes aside, though, I just hope that the health committee, when looking at it, do not generate some sort of mass hysteria about the dangers. Quite clearly there is risk in anything, Mr Speaker, but I think the benefits far outweigh any negatives and the wellbeing of the young people of our community really is helped by complete immunisation. Our rates are terrible and I would encourage parents of all young children to think about their own and other people's.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care): Mr Speaker, I think I might need to seek leave to speak again.

Leave granted.

MR MOORE: Yes, our rates on immunisation were terrible, but they are improving very rapidly and the ACT can be now very proud. If my recollection serves me correctly, in about January we became the highest immunising jurisdiction in Australia. This is in spite of the fact that we have a highly educated community which does enjoy challenging ideas. They have a health scepticism. I think that everybody who has had children goes through a sceptical phase about immunisation, and it is something that is entirely appropriate.

It is interesting, Mr Speaker, that the ACT has the highest immunisation coverage rate for the primary immunisation schedule - that is two, four and six months. It is 88.6 per cent. We are leading the rest of the country by more than 81/2 per cent for the five-year-old schedule. I think part of the reason is that the ACT has been part of that Commonwealth program that Mr Osborne talked about. We have done it very enthusiastically in terms of the GP incentive payments, child-care assistance payments for immunisation, child-care rebate payments linked to immunisation, school entry legislation, and maternity allowance linked to immunisation.

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