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Wednesday, 28 June 2000
Page: 18533


Mrs ELSON —I was very privileged earlier this month to meet eight very special young women who most recently graduated from the Youth Enterprise Trust. The trust is a remarkable organisation which I am very proud to have in my electorate and to personally support. The trust's aims are to help children get back on track and find purpose and meaning in their lives following drug addiction.

The trust runs several challenging programs designed to help participants explore their inner strengths, boost their confidence and find a way to contribute to their community. It was wonderful to see the optimism in this group of young people, each of whom had to meet many challenges and difficulties in their young lives. They had excelled on the wilderness experience and Kurrajong phase of the trust's program. I want to take the time in this place today to congratulate them once again on their courage and achievements and to encourage them to continue to achieve and succeed in whatever they set their minds to.

I know that their families and friends are extremely proud of them for taking up the tough fight and for sticking at it. On behalf of the government, I would like to congratulate Melissa, Joanne, Carina, Deanna, Juanita, Tracey and the two Rebeccas. I also want to thank most sincerely the founder, Lloyd Hancock, as well as Colin Barnett and everyone at the Youth Enterprise Trust for their ongoing work.

The fight against drugs is one of the most important challenges we face as a society. I know first-hand the devastating effect that drug addiction can have on the life of a young person and the enormous impact on those who love them. I want to take this opportunity to thank many local residents, friends and colleagues who expressed their kind thoughts and well wishes to me and my family over the past week.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the local media, Channel 9, Channel 10, the ABC and SBS for affording the incident involving my son the same media coverage it would have received had he been the son of a teacher or a taxidriver—none at all. The media often gets a bad rap, and I want to take the time to thank them for both their good sense and their sensitivity. Unfortunately, there was one notable exception—the sensationalism of Channel 7, which gave the story head billing on Brisbane news two nights in a row. It was crass in the extreme.

I am prepared to cop most things in this job, but I am not prepared to sit back and take the way the local Channel 7 crew harassed family members when they came to my home, and then totally sensationalised the story—to the point of gross inaccuracy. I do not have the time to list all the things that were simply untrue in their story but will just say that, in classic tradition, they did not let the facts get in the way of a good story. I am surprised and saddened at the actions of Michael Coombes, the journalist involved. I wonder whether he stopped to think for a moment about the impact his dramatised and incorrect reporting of events would have on my seven other children and my grandchildren? Did he stop for one minute to consider whether the story would have rated a second look, let alone a mention on the news, had it been another family? Did he stop for one minute to consider whether his off-the-cuff demeaning remarks made in the courthouse in front of my children were insensitive and hurtful? It is a shame that there was one media organisation that lived up to all the worst expectations the community has of that profession.