Page 1254 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 9 April 2008

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underinvestment in skills and training by the former federal Liberal government. Sadly, there is nothing that I can do as education minister to help the Liberal opposition.

However, I believe there may be some action that I can take as planning minister. So that the people of the ACT know where the Liberal opposition stands, I am exploring the possibility of putting forward a variation to the territory plan. This variation would create a new zone that would apply in this chamber. It would be a policy-free zone, or PFZ. I am very pleased that we have been able to mark out where the policy-free zone exists. For the benefit of members, I am very happy to table the following paper:

Chamber floor plan—ACT Legislative Assembly.

We look forward to not needing to advance this territory plan variation, in perhaps the eager anticipation that we might see a policy from the Liberal opposition some time in the near future.

Arthritis Awareness Week

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (6.11): At lunchtime today I attended a function that celebrated Arthritis Awareness Week—move it or lose it. I know that we are also busy with Seniors Week and Youth Week, which I spoke of this morning, but this week is also one when we can reflect on the fact that more than half of all Australians who live with arthritis also still remain active in the workforce, I being one of those people.

Nearly one in five Australians has arthritis and 62 per cent of those are aged between 15 and 24, so arthritis is a condition that affects not just older people but also young people. There are 150 forms of arthritis, even affecting babies under 12 months. It affects our population to varying degrees, and by the age of 70 some 45 per cent of people have some form of arthritis. As Minister Gallagher said when launching the website and pamphlet of Arthritis ACT today, as well as their new banner, the ACT government is aware of the health tsunami that is rapidly approaching us. I would just like to read a couple of things from the pamphlet about that. It states:

By 2020 one in three hospital beds will be taken up by people with osteoporosis

The cost of osteoporosis to the community is estimated at $2 billion per annum in health costs

That, I would imagine, is a national estimate. That is why the ACT government is putting into place its forward plans to ensure that we can meet that challenge. I must congratulate Arthritis ACT—its board, staff and volunteers—and also the students who assisted with the design of the new pamphlet, the website and the banner.

As there is a lack of knowledge about the types of arthritis, its prevalence in the community, prevention and treatments available, the pamphlet and the website are very important. Deborah Kerrison designed the pamphlet and it is sponsored by the Australian Pharmacy Group. Mr Bill Wood, as president of the organisation, officiated at the launch today and it was also attended by Ms Annette Ellis MP, member for Canberra, in her role as patron.

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