Bill's Speeches













Good morning.

This event reminded me to ring a friend of mine who I worked with for many years, and it’s about 9 years since his wife died of ovarian cancer, and Di would now be 61. She was then 52.

And since then her children have got married, she would have been a grandmother. She was a very warm person and she was the centre of this particular family, they lived down in Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula.

So when we think about ovarian cancer, it’s very real. It makes me angry that a beautiful mother never got a chance to see her grandchildren. She was very much the person who held that family together, and I’ve seen their travails since then. Things are ok for the family, but ovarian cancer left an empty place at the table which can never be replaced.

So this morning we rededicate ourselves to ending this sadness – to finding a better system of diagnosis, better care and ultimately, a cure, that does begin with research.

I want you to know that Labor is determined to deliver a medical research policy informed by the smartest experts based on the very best evidence.

Instead of perhaps fruitless discussions between practitioners, patients and researchers, we should unite and have broader conversations – a discussion where we look at every option for medical research funding – translating that research into new treatments and delivering those treatments to patients in Australia and around the whole world.

This could mean:

Alternative debt finance such as a special-purpose bond issuance program or social bonds akin to those used in the United Kingdom and California.

Further and targeted R&D tax incentives or possibly research prizes such as DARPA’s Grand Challenge.

We could look at leveraging private finance and public investment in partnership. Working together for a competitive, efficient system for less tragedy.

We could investigate equity co-investment arrangements where the government and investors commit capital to medical research. A model that has been used in other contexts to support many leading firms like Seek, Bionomics and Benthic Geotech.

I don’t need to tell the people here, but supporting world-class medical research depends upon so much more than just money, as important as money is.

We need a smart and skilled workforce, clear pathways to commercialisation and an environment that rewards innovation, inquiry and improved health care.

People may or may not be aware but I’ve had my colleagues Andrew Giles and Anna Burke, working alongside our Shadow Health Minister Catherine King, undertaking an extensive consultation process with the medical research sector.

Soon, they will have met from representatives from every member of the Australian Association of Medical Research Institute.

Hospitals, health practitioners, universities, start-ups have all been a part of this process.

Labor believes in a national conversation as the basis for supporting Australia’s scientists in their search for the cures of tomorrow.

The Australian Ovarian Cancer study has shown us that without world class, locally-based medical research, not only will we reduce the chances of great discoveries being made - we have little chance of bringing discoveries made overseas to our own patients.

Medical research works – it will work for ovarian cancer.

But we cannot rely on chance, or a lone genius.

We need a deliberate, focused effort.

That’s what Labor is committed to.

Above all, that’s why we’re here this morning, it’s why we wear a teal ribbon.

It is to think about all the brave women who like my friend Diane who have not had the chance to see their grandchildren or to watch their children grow old. This is the real shame.

This day inspires me, as I’m sure it inspires our Prime Minister, to honour their memory in the most meaningful way possible.

The most meaningful way possible, to make sense of what we have lost, is to cure ovarian cancer - once and for all.