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Thursday, 21 August 2003
Page: 19251


Mr JENKINS (4:49 PM) —Yesterday, for a number of reasons, Parliament House was the venue for an outpouring of great emotion, which was a great test of our ability to step back and make important decisions in a cool, collected manner. The first event was the debate upon the motion to do with terrorist attacks, carried unanimously after a debate of full, genuine emotion and passion. The outrage at, and condemnation of, the terrorist acts was well placed. The events deplored are a reminder of the difficulty of winning a sustainable peace in a number of areas in the Middle East. As I have said before, technology may have made winning the war an easier, albeit still dangerous, ask, but it perhaps has done little to assist the winning of the peace. That will require genuine goodwill and understanding. We owe it to great crusaders for peace, such as Sergio de Mello, his colleagues and other innocent victims of such senseless acts, to do all in our power to achieve such an outcome.

The second event that occurred yesterday was the extremely successful Kids in the House, organised by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. This was a very successful lobbying event in making members of parliament aware of type 1 juvenile diabetes. Type 1 juvenile diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks the beta cells of the pancreas, destroying the body's own ability to produce insulin. At this stage, researchers do not know the real causes of type 1 diabetes, but they are working on some of those factors. There is a belief that insulin is perhaps in some way a cure, but it is simply a medical discovery that assists in the management of the disease. Given that the disease can shorten life expectancy by 15 years, lead to more than 40 per cent of kidney failure cases and that it is the No. 1 cause of adult blindness and amputations, it is a serious medical problem.

I had the pleasure of having two young girls from my electorate visit me, eight-year-old Ella and 13-year-old Monique, both sufferers of juvenile diabetes, as delegates of Kids in the House. They visited me in my electorate office, along with their parents. They made me aware of the day-to-day factors that they faced in coming to grips with the disease. This is a disease that leads to some of these young people having to show a maturity way beyond their years. They have to subject themselves to numerous blood tests a day and then, as a result, numerous shots of insulin. When we think of how we, in our older years, would cope with that, I think we have a greater understanding of the maturity that they have to display.

They have to come to grips with being told that there are things that their fellow students at school and their friends can do. Yesterday at the luncheon a boy said that one of the things he would just love to be able to do is go on a sleepover. These are things that these kids have to come to grips with. But also, importantly, we were made aware of the effect that this disease has on the whole family. I was thankful to the two mothers, Connie and Kellie, who accompanied their daughters, for the way that they were able to convey their concern about making sure that things were proper for their children.

Kids in the House had one simple aim: to try to get us as members of parliament to promise to remember them. I think that that is an easy ask. We will remember them. We have to remember them and we have to explain to them that this does not mean that there will be an immediate outcome; that when decisions are made about whether we use new technologies—no matter whether there are moral dilemmas or the like—that might lead to research that finds a cure, we will have the debates, in recognition of their request; and that when we make the decisions about allocating resources we will also remember their plight. I think that that is the important thing that comes out of a day like yesterday. (Time expired)