Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2095 ..
and treatment. But given the current set-up, it may actually be more helpful to donate money to the research than to demand a storage facility in the ACT.
Nothing Mr Smyth has said relates to a particular, clear medical reason to establish a bank here in the ACT. Mr Smyth's office described it as a matter of choice for women; they should have the right to donate. I am sorry, but there are areas of choice with far greater impact than this. If the argument is that there is need, that is one thing. But this is another thing entirely.
Storage of umbilical blood is expensive because of the precision required. Where there is no medical need and where our need for cord blood is being met by the existing system, it is a waste of energy, time and resources to even investigate it further. Sydney Childrens Hospital is a specialist hospital in the treatment of cancer. It is also specialising now in store.
Private arrangements are offered to expecting parents for storing their child's umbilical cord blood for a fee per year in case they need it in the future. This private arrangement does not contribute to the public medical system. The blood is not available for research, and it is not available generally for the people most in need. Because of the flexibility of the cells in umbilical cords, there is no need to store your child's own cells.
Mr Smyth's motion draws attention to the importance of a system for making umbilical cords available for medical treatments and research, which I am happy to support. It also calls on the government to investigate the feasibility of establishing an umbilical cord blood collection storage facility in Canberra, which I am obviously not happy to support, since I supported Mr Corbell's amendment. Feasibility is about whether we are capable of doing something and whether it is practical to do it. Desirability is another question. Without evidence of a need, let's put the effort into areas of clear need.
MR CORNWELL(10.01): I recall that, back in the 1970s in the ACT, we had an unequitable situation-seeing as the word is being thrown around a bit tonight-whereby we could benefit from organ donations of corneas and kidneys but we could not donate any. At that time, the ACT was controlled by the federal government of the day, and it took a great deal of work to achieve a change in that arrangement. In fact, we had an inquiry into organ and tissue transplants, which was conducted by a person who is now-the Attorney-General might correct me, but he is not listening anyway-Mr Justice Fox.
The long and the short of it was that there was a fairly detailed investigation into organ and tissue transplants and we were eventually successful, thanks to the then federal Minister for Health, Ralph Hunt. We in the ACT not only benefited from organ and tissue donors; we were also able to make a donation to that bank for the rest of the country. That strikes me as being only fair and equitable. Indeed, choice does not enter into it, in my opinion. I think it is regrettable that in this case the same sense of equity, as put forward by my colleague Mr Smyth, has not prevailed here this evening.
MRS CROSS(10.04): Given the lateness of the hour, I just want to commend Mr Smyth on this motion and let him know that I will be supporting it.