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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (18 June) . . Page.. 2097 ..


(Leader of the Opposition) (10.08): Mr Speaker, I thank members for their contribution to the debate this evening. We have all said that we see the importance of this. Whilst I acknowledge Mr Corbell's words, his amendment guts what was basically a call to action and reduces it to a statement of fact. Then again, why would any of us be surprised at that?

I recall reading somewhere that the objective of the network was ultimately to have a collection point at one out of every two hospitals, with a series of banks distributed around Australia and a central registry that coordinates. My office had to calm me down and tell me not to call for the establishment of a centre but just to ask the government to investigate. It is three or four years now since the original concept was funded, and all we wanted the government to do was investigate whether the position had changed. Was it time for the ACT to be a collection point and possibly a storage point for the region?

The example Mr Cornwell gave is very important. We are hearing from the government that we are happy to contribute a little bit of money. ACT residents, if they need to, can access the bank, but they are not interested in giving. That is a really disappointing attitude to have. It is the attitude of the status quo, and it is the attitude we hear so often.

The really disappointing comments tonight for me were from Ms Tucker from the Greens. She said it was "a waste of energy, time and resources to even investigate it". I never thought I would hear those words, and I will repeat them. I hope I have quoted them correctly, and I will check the Hansard, but I think she said it was "a waste of energy, time and resources to even investigate it."

I am surprised and very disappointed to hear that attitude in this place. I would have thought the availability to investigate an option that might lead to a cure and a better lifestyle-particularly for young Canberrans, but also older Canberrans-is something we should all cherish. "A waste of time, energy and resources to even investigate it", I have to say, is the day's disappointing comment.

Mr Corbell's amendment says that, yes, we can access cord blood as a result of the ACT being party to the national cord blood collection network. He acknowledges that the previous government had a part in setting it up as part of the agreement. But I am asking about the next step. We could have put a motion on the table saying, "You must establish."I am not asking for that; I think that might be premature. I am saying, "Update where you're at, do a little bit of work and find out whether now is the time."We are seeing Tasmania and Perth set up theirs. We have here a very important regional role-from Young to Albury, from Batemans Bay to Wagga and further west. We could be that collection and storage point.

The other side of the issue is whether Canberrans should have the ability to donate. There will always be competing priorities for the health dollar. The example given so neatly by Mr Cornwell about how in the seventies we could not donate organs and corneas in this place is appalling. "We will take from the national collection system, but we won't even investigate how we might get into the system."

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