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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2094 ..

The Assembly voted-

	Ayes  9  			Noes 8

Mr Berry  	Mr Quinlan  	Mrs Burke  	Mr Pratt
Mr Corbell  	Mr Stanhope  	Mr Cornwell  	Mr Smyth
Ms Gallagher  	Ms Tucker  	Mrs Cross  	Mr Stefaniak
Mr Hargreaves  	Mr Wood    	Ms Dundas  
Ms MacDonald     		Mrs Dunne  

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment agreed to.


(9.57): Umbilical cord banks are a great idea. The use of the blood from umbilical cords is one of the new advances in medical research that have the potential to massively improve treatment options and lower the rates of cancer, blood and immunity disorders and possibly other diseases. Umbilical cord blood is used increasingly successfully to treat childhood leukaemia. There is also research going on into whether viable cells and tissues can be expanded from the stem cells in umbilical cords. Clearly, this has potential as an alternative to the controversial use of embryonic stem cells in at least some circumstances.

Umbilical cords provide a more flexible treatment for leukaemia than bone marrow. Speaking roughly, we need a database of around 20,000 cord blood units to be sure that we have a match for the entire Australian population, whereas we would need millions of bone marrow donors to have the same match. The cords can be stored for around 18 years. It is a less invasive procedure for the donor, too.

The ACT is already part of a national cord blood collection network established by the Australian Health Ministers Council in 2001. The agreement between the states and territories specifies three banks, in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, to which the ACT is contributing funding for a four-year period. The agreement expires in 2005, when the outcomes will be reviewed.

Our nearest cord blood bank storage, at the Sydney Childrens Hospital in Randwick, accepts blood from only four particular hospitals in the Sydney metropolitan area. That is an issue of quality control for them-to be able to meet the strict and detailed guidelines. For example, the blood needs to be handled in very precise ways and kept frozen at minus 19 degrees Celsius.

The Sydney childrens facility, established in 1995, is in the process of being accredited by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Babies, or their parents, in the ACT are not able at this stage to donate to these blood banks. Although ACT residents cannot contribute to the store, we do benefit from it. The bank sends material around the country-and internationally-as needs are matched up.

There is no suggestion of evidence of any medical need for a storage facility in the ACT. There are, on the other hand, many other needs that we are well aware of. I know it can be disappointing for people who want to donate and contribute to this exciting research

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