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Monday, 1 December 2003
Page: 23292

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) (2:00 PM) —I seek the indulgence of the House to mention two matters.

The SPEAKER —The Prime Minister may proceed.

Mr HOWARD —The first matter is that I know the House would want me on behalf of all members to extend our congratulations to the victorious Australian Davis Cup team. The Leader of the Opposition and I had the opportunity of witnessing a truly astounding performance by Mark Philippoussis yesterday—and all of the team, ably captained by John Fitzgerald. Lleyton Hewitt, Wayne Arthurs and Todd Woodbridge really did our country proud. It now means that Australia has won 28 Davis Cups versus 30 won by the United States. It is a great victory in the light of their defeat against Spain three years ago. All Australians would be very proud of that performance, and particularly of the astounding 6-0 victory by Mark Philippoussis in the fifth set of the fourth rubber.

The other matter that I want to mention on indulgence is this: earlier this month the Leader of the Opposition wrote to me regarding possible assistance that might be extended to Mrs Hazel Hawke, particularly in the light of the Alzheimer's disease from which she is so tragically suffering. I know that all members of the House admire the courage that Mrs Hawke has displayed and will wish her well in her battle against this ailment that afflicts so many of our fellow Australians.

The House may not be aware that, although there is no entitlement officially recognised for somebody in Mrs Hawke's position, I have for some years maintained an arrangement whereby a capped amount each year is made available to defray expenses, including the provision of Commonwealth car transport and other secretarial expenses, to assist Mrs Hawke, given the position she formerly held and also given the very active role she undertakes in worthwhile community work. It is my intention to continue that arrangement, and, if the existing capped amount proves inadequate, to a reasonable degree to increase it to accommodate her needs. I will see that the relevant people in my department are in touch with Mrs Hawke's family to ensure that there is a proper utilisation of that offer.

I also inform directly the Leader of the Opposition and generally the parliament that, in addition, I have decided that the government will contribute an amount of $250,000 to the Hazel Hawke Alzheimer's Research and Care Fund. In that way, the community can more broadly benefit from Mrs Hawke's decision to work for an improved attitude towards and care for those with Alzheimer's disease. I know that all Australians will join me in wishing her well. She is a figure of great respect in the Australian community. She is doing wonderful work despite her affliction and in that way has encouraged other Australians to take a fairer, more understanding attitude to those of their fellow citizens who might suffer this ailment.