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Tuesday, 22 June 1999
Page: 7064

Mrs DRAPER (10:44 PM) —This evening I would like to speak on two topics. The first is the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the second is the challenge. On 17 June 1999, the Liberal Federal Electorate Committee of Makin held its annual general meeting. We were greatly honoured to have our esteemed Speaker of the House of Representatives and member for Wakefield, the Hon. Neil Andrew MP, as our guest speaker to talk on his role in the parliament. Mr Speaker, all of the feedback that I have received since that evening indicates that the members found your speech most entertaining and educative. I remind you of it tonight only to place on the public record what I said on that occasion, that I believe that history will come to judge the honourable member for Wakefield, Neil Andrew, as one of the best Speakers this parliament has seen.

I am sure all members would agree that you have discharged your responsibilities with fairness, consistency and good humour. You have been firm where necessary, but more often than not you have commanded the respect of the House through your own example of dignity, patience and respect for the institution of parliament. I would also like to point out to the House that, at the time of Federation, the Speaker of the House was the honourable member for Wakefield, Sir Frederick Holder. It will be tremendous that, as we celebrate the centenary of Federation, we will have the member for Wakefield as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

On another subject, members may be interested to know that the member for Makin last week issued a challenge to the member for Banks and opposition spokesman for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs to a five-kilometre footrace to take place in the proposed final sitting week of this calendar year, on 8 December 1999. The member for the Northern Territory, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, was witness to the challenge and the acceptance of it. He has agreed to officiate at the race and to map out the course over which we will run. I congratulate the member for Banks for accepting the challenge, which will cap off a year highlighted by the healthy eating and fitness regime which he has undertaken. It is my intention to gain corporate sponsorship for this race and perhaps even to invite other members of the parliament to participate in the race or, if not, to become sponsors for a very worthy cause.

Recently I was approached by the Chief Executive Officer of the National Asthma Campaign, Ms Kristine Whorlow, who, in my capacity as the secretary of the government health and aged care backbench policy committee, sought my assistance in establishing a National Asthma Campaign parliamentary group among interested senators and members of parliament. I have since written to all members and senators and received an extremely positive response. I look forward to the next step of forming the group. Thus, I feel it would be appropriate for any corporate sponsorship that I am able to raise from the race with the member for Banks to go to benefit asthma education and research.

In order to prepare myself for this ordeal, I have chosen to stop smoking and to more than match Mr Melham's fitness and healthy eating program. I have been aided in this endeavour by other members of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, especially the member for Franklin, Mr Harry Quick MP, who confiscated my cigarettes last week and has rationed them back to me on a very strict basis. Others who have been very cruel to be kind in order to assist me to stop smoking include the honourable member for Grey, Mr Barry Wakelin, and the honourable member for Indi, Mr Lou Lieberman. Mr Barry Haase has also indicated to me that he would like to give up smoking and endeavour to commence a fitness program.

I invite all members of the House to become involved in this worthwhile initiative to raise some money for a very worthy cause and improve their health along the way. The honourable member for the Northern Territory is putting together a few initiatives to get as many members involved as possible. After all, we have six months to prepare. Hopefully, next week we will have enough details to put to the members of the House to get everyone involved. I encourage you all to watch this space.