Bill's Speeches

OVARIAN CANCER AUSTRALIA BREAKFAST - MURAL HALL, CANBERRA - TUESDAY, 6 FEBRUARY 2018

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I have to say that when you hear the sort of talks that Chrissy and Jack gave - these are always emotional mornings - I think our speakers have given us all a dose of perspective.

I have to say Jack, coming across from Perth and being here for the day to go back tonight, if you get the chance, on the plane to reflect about what was it all about, being here today. I just want to reassure you that for all of the people here - the Minister for Health, the senior politicians from all sides, Catherine King the Shadow Minister - we will listen very carefully to what you said.

But what you remind me of is that truism which is that sons and mothers have special relationships. And whilst you would no doubt give all the money in the world not to have had to come here, you gave us a glimpse, you gave us an opportunity to just meet your mum a little bit .

And I have to say to you too, Chrissy: you see the photos, you see the battles, you hear your story, you seem like a very special grandma. You've had an unreasonable share of unfairness but I suspect everyone here when they were looking at the photos, the family, the love - you've got some very, very strong and positive things happening in your family as well. 

And so you make us all feel a bit special - we can share it with you. 

This is the fifth year I’ve spoken to this breakfast, as Opposition Leader - but that's a separate issue. 

But this is an important event and I think that through that time, thanks to the work of Ovarian Cancer Australia – you are getting through. 

To the researchers: you're making an impact,  what you do is crucial and you're making an impact on the policy-makers. 

I am conscious that though when you think of that span of five years, that there are 4000 women no longer with us. 

So as much as we are making an impact, we need to do more and we need to do more, more quickly. 

I'm conscious that there are families who are affected - it's not just 4,000 precious souls it's that ripple effect of loss going through to a lot more. 

I think we owe it to all of those no longer here to do as much as we can as quickly as we can. 

You know when I was listening to Chrissy and Jack before, it really does remind me that sure, today we're going to explore some big issues in parliament and some, probably less important issues - but there's nothing more important than health and family. And time is not here to be wasted. 

We celebrated the life of a journalist yesterday who passed under sad circumstances - he was only 62.

I just think - thinking about that yesterday, thinking about this today - you cannot waste time.

There are things which are important and there are things which are urgent and sometimes we let the urgent push the important out of the way. And I think the more that we can do on Ovarian Cancer -  that's just plainly important. 

So Catherine and I, during the last election campaign we were fortunate to have a morning tea with Ovarian Cancer Australia and the survivors.

It wasn't the biggest thing in the election but I think it was probably one of the most important things in the election. 

We said that we would pledge some money if elected to the search for a cure.

I know that Ovarian Cancer has talked about seeking $12 million funding and I welcome the government’s commitment of $3 million  - that is great, just unequivocally great.


But I think that we can do more

  • To set-up new clinical trials
  • To create a National Ovarian Cancer Registry
  • To launch new research into a cure
  • To achieve its vision of a 25 per cent reduction in the incidence of Ovarian Cancer and a 25 per cent increase in the five-year survival rate, by 2025.So in addition to what's been said today, which is most welcome 

I pledge that a Labor Government if elected, will fund all of the $12 million.

Not because it's going to change the election - because it won't, and that isn't the reason to do it.

But if we agree that family and health are the most important things, if we agree that seeing what Jack and Chrissy have had to say and giving us an insight into Elisha - as we hear from other people too. If we think it's important, then why waste time?

The Commonwealth of Australia has a $464 billion budget - there are many important calls on it, no question.

There's 12 million Australians who do at least one hour of paid work a week.

If we were to somehow be able to ask every one of those Australians to find one dollar - we'd have $12 million. 

And I think that if we were to say to those Australians who pay all their taxes, 'We need $12 million for Ovarian Cancer'. Ninety-eight percent would say: just do it.

So my message to you who are here, but also to our parliament is: if we think that it's important - and we do.

And if we know that we're rich and generous and smart enough as a nation to stump up for what needs to be done – and we are.

If we know what needs to be done, if we think what needs to be done is important, and if we have the capacity to pay for it - we should just do it.

We are a very generous nation. When it comes to empathising, we can. Chrissy, I found what you said quite confronting. I have cousins who have dealt with cancer, my mother dealt with cancer - some of them have done the trace-back on the BRCA gene mutation.

But certainly what you've done today Chrissy, is you've straightened me up a bit more and I will go back and just make sure I'm really tracing, which needs to be done.

And if we can learn that here - imagine what we can do with the $12 million which we are pledging.

Thank you very much for sharing your morning with us. 


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