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Monday, 16 June 2003
Page: 16482

Mr QUICK (9:00 PM) —Tonight I rise to make one of the more difficult speeches I have made in this House and to raise an issue that must be addressed immediately by all state and territory governments. I hold in my hand a photo of a beautiful young 20-month-old girl, Zoe Dee Hart. This speech is about this lovely young girl who tragically died on 15 September 2002. Zoe Dee Hart was only 21 months old when she fell foul of something that is in just about every household in this country—a common blind cord. I will read an extract from a letter her mother, Deanne, wrote to me last week:

... Zoe was put down for her normal afternoon nap. My husband and myself were checking on her in five-minute intervals. The last time I checked on her she was jumping on her bed to look at her reflection in her bedroom mirror. My husband then checked her five minutes later.

He found her hanging from the blind cord in her bedroom. The blind cord was wrapped around her neck so tight that he had to unwind the cord to release her to start CPR. Tragically it was too late and as a result we no longer have our beautiful daughter.

Deanne goes on to say:

What upsets me the most Mr Quick is that Zoe's death was preventable and if one person had spoken up we would still have our daughter.

Last Wednesday I visited Deanne and her friend Bronwyn to listen to what Deanne has been doing so I could ensure that this issue receives prominence nationally. One of the problems about living in this country is that we have six states and two territories. Trying to get state legislators to recognise there is a problem, let alone getting them off their bottoms to enact legislation that has national consistency, is so hard and so frustrating. New South Wales is the only state to have a ban in place—and that was put in place in January this year.

Deanne has conducted a crusade to find the extent of the problem here in Australia and overseas. There have been 144 deaths through blind cord strangulation within Australia, and in the United States of America one child dies every fortnight. What is Deanne asking us to do? She is asking, firstly, that all state consumer affairs ministers recognise there is a problem with blind cords; secondly, that they legislate and mandate that there be put in place warning signs on all blinds to alert consumers; and thirdly, that they mandate that all blinds installed have a safety mechanism attached to walls to prevent any further tragedies occurring. I have in my hand such a device. It costs less than $5 and if mandated by all state and territory government consumer affairs ministers it will save the lives of our youngsters.

The most frightening thing is that blind cords are not just found in the home; they are also in our child-care centres, creches and early childhood classrooms. I cannot believe that various state coroners have not picked up on this issue and alerted their consumer affairs ministers to the obvious danger. The left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing is jeopardising the lives of our most vulnerable citizens. I would like to thank Deanne and Steve for allowing me to raise this sensitive issue in the House tonight. I know that they and Bronwyn, their close friend, are listening down there in Tinderbox, Tasmania. I close with a last quote from Deanne:

We must have legislation put in place so that we can prevent this from happening to other innocent children and save other parents living with the grief we do every day.