Bill's Speeches

ADDRESS TO THE TEAL RIBBON DAY BREAKFAST - CANBERRA - WEDNESDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2017

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Good morning, everybody. 

I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land on which we meet, I pay my respects to elders past and present. 

Trudy, thanks for speaking to us. 

There's a lot to recommend being Opposition Leader, but one of things which is great every year is the ability to come to this breakfast and listen to the stories of survivors. 

I can't speak for everyone else, but when we were watching those photos of your treatment, your family, of your strength - they say a picture can tell a thousand words. 

You make us feel slightly better to be who we are, which is not helping your treatment, but thank you so much for telling your story. 

Having said that this is a good breakfast, I have to say I hate cancer. 

They say cancer is the emperor of all maladies, the emperor of all illnesses. It's probably a fair description. 

I hated watching my Mum battle through it - she had breast cancer. I hate it. 

I hate the fact that I have cousins who are great mums and they have got to test their children to track if they have the BRCA gene. 

I hate the way it haunts families over generations: appearing and re-appearing in parents, children and grandchildren. 

And of course, because I have had friends who have been through the battle of ovarian cancer, and anyone who knows anything about ovarian cancer, knows that we really hate ovarian cancer. 

Hate is a wasted emotion but cancer is a great challenge as the minister said – and I acknowledge all the parliamentary colleagues who are here.  

When you come to an event like this, when, Trudy we hear your story, when we hear from people in the fight for their lives - a lot of the other things we argue about here pale into insignificance, don't they? 

The gift of mornings like this remind all of us in this building why we went into politics, to make a difference. 

When I met the other survivors who are here now and had a chance to talk to a few of you before, every one of you has a story. 

You carry on your shoulders the stories of 1500 Australian women who are diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer each year. 

You are the voices of those who didn’t make it. 

Last week was the start of the school year. 

I just think about some of the kids in Australia, whose mum wasn't there to kiss them goodbye for the first day of school. 

That's why I hate cancer, because it denies the opportunity to people to watch their kids grow up, their partners grow old. 

Every year, there are Australian women who find themselves feeling tired and rundown, a bit out-of-sorts. 

They think it might just be a busy week, fatigue, indigestion or menopause. 

I remember speaking with Catherine King to a friend of hers from Ballarat who thought catching the train to and from Melbourne was wearing her out - that's what she thought at least. 

Life has a way of keeping you busy, of dragging you along – perhaps even stopping you from checking-up on your health or ignoring the symptoms. 

And then, comes that lightning-bolt of diagnosis. 

In that instant: 

-      You forget about the minutes of the meeting you missed

-      The traffic jam on the way to work

-      The argument you had with your partner or your kids 

Suddenly, and Trudy used those magic words 'it's time', and it’s all about what matters: your health, your family. 

My wife Chloe’s favourite bit of wisdom is: ‘When Mum’s OK, the family’s OK, the world’s OK’.  

Ovarian Cancer shows the truth of that staying. 

I also think of the husbands and partners and children here who live the truth of it. 

When Mum is doing it tough, the foundation of your world shakes. 

That’s easy for any of us, for any Australian to understand. 

And it’s easy for us to wear a teal ribbon – or a teal tie, it’s easy for us to praise your courage. 

But I know that’s not why you’re here. 

You’re not here for an audience, or applause.  

You’re here because you want Australia to fund research and find a cure. 

We have the best five-year survival rate in the world. 

But five years is the blink of an eye for a family, isn’t it? 

We know early intervention, better screening and tests and diagnosis is vital. 

But a cure is the only guarantee. 

At the last election, Catherine King and I pledged money for research to find a cure for Ovarian Cancer. 

It’s why we’re determined to keep down the cost of seeing the doctor, the cost of blood-tests and diagnostics. 

And just like the Government will, Catherine and I will keep talking with you about the resources you need in the future. 

There will always be someone who says Australia doesn’t have the money to find a cure. 

That there is a finite amount we can spend on healthcare. 

I wish they could meet you, Trudy. 

Because five minutes of your time is proof that we cannot afford not to find a cure, that we cannot afford not to fund the care, we cannot afford to fund the support. 

We use words like courage, resilience and hope in this place - but you have courage, you have resilience and you have hope. 

The note I made most clearly of what you said is that time is the most precious thing of all. 

So, it's time for us to help with the research, the treatment and the support. 

Thank you for your time.


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