Page 604 - Week 02 - Thursday, 17 February 2005

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Ms MacDonald mentioned situations where one person can bring hope and joy to five, six, seven or eight families. I see that Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker is holding up his donor card, and that is a fantastic thing. It would be good if, on this day next year, 17 members stood and held up their cards. This is not just about politicians talking; it is about politicians acting. The real power and message of this matter is that there is a challenge for all 17 of us. I say to my colleagues: get your licences out of your wallets and check that you have your card with you for next time. If we, as an Assembly, all 17 of us, assuming we are all capable of doing it, could actually stand together and say, “We’ve signed up; have you?” that would be a powerful incentive to the public to actually listen to what we say. Indeed, it is worth reminding members that a former member, Harold Hird, had an enormous role in setting up the Organ Donor Network in the ACT. I think Harold may still be either the patron or president here in the ACT. Again, that is the influence we can exert, either as current members or former members, in saying to our city, our society, our friends, our families, that this is really important.

I remember the old slogan they used to use: “Don’t take your organs to heaven. God knows we need them here.” How true is that? As medical technology has progressed and the skill of our surgeons has developed, there is an incredible ability to transplant many different organs. We should take every opportunity we can to extend life, to save life and to give new life to those who suffer. Of course, some people, for medical reasons, cannot donate. Perhaps their role is to encourage others to donate. They might not want my mechanical knee and perhaps they would not want Mr Stanhope’s spleen, but most of us, individually or through our families, can give organs or encourage others to do so. I think that is a wonderful thing.

Awareness week is next week. Perhaps Ms MacDonald would like to take the opportunity to distribute forms to all of us. Perhaps at the end of the week we will get a press release from her saying that all 17 members of the ACT Assembly have signed. Then, when Assembly members have all signed up, we can start working on the staff. There are far more staff here than there are members and there are a lot of valuable organs floating around this building. Heaven forbid that any of us die early or die young, but unfortunately it does happen and we have an opportunity to give something precious to another family. It is leadership by example. So, well done, Ms MacDonald. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of Australian Organ Donor Awareness Week over the coming week.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.05): I am happy to support Ms MacDonald and Mr Smyth in seeking to promote the importance of Australian Organ Donor Awareness Week. I am sure there are quite a few healthy organs in this Assembly. Certainly some of the vocal organs are very healthy, anyway.

As we have heard, Australian Organ Donor Awareness Week begins tomorrow. There will be a range of events in Canberra to promote the message that organ donors save lives. The last organ donor week prompted almost 13,000 enquiries to the donor register and 4,945 online registrations. I believe that this was a record response and can only hope that the coming week will have the same or even greater success in encouraging people to think about whether organ donation is right for them. So, clearly, having a special week raises public awareness enormously.

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