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Monday, 2 December 2013
Page: 1306

Mr McCORMACK (RiverinaParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance) (11:06): I second the motion, and I commend at the outset the member for Kingston for this motion and commend her for her advocacy of Lung Cancer Awareness Month and everything she is doing in her electorate and in wider regions to combat the ills of smoking. This is above politics. The member for Kingston acknowledged the work the previous government had done in this space, and certainly I know that the new Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, is also working very hard and committing a lot of funds. There will never be enough funds to fight the ills of smoking and to fight the perils of lung cancer. But I know that the Liberal-Nationals government is committed to ensuring that we do everything we can with the support of the opposition to fight smoking and to fight lung cancer.

The motion of the member for Kingston acknowledges that more than 9,100 Australians are diagnosed with lung cancer every year. That is a troubling statistic and one that we want very much lowered, if it cannot in fact be completely eliminated. The motion recognises that lung cancer claims the lives of more Australians than any other cancer, with only 14 out of 100 Australians surviving five years beyond their initial diagnosis. My father Lance was one of those who died from lung cancer, on 1 September 2008. Dad succumbed: he fought the good fight, but in the end it was too much. I know that Dad, in his dying days, stressed to my children—Georgina, Alexander and Nicholas—not to ever take up smoking, and thankfully they have not. And I know they will not, having seen their favourite 'Pop Lance' unfortunately succumb to lung cancer. My father-in-law, Bernard Shaw, also died from cancer, and he too smoked. Unfortunately, he found out all too late that he just should not have done it.

I must say that in my local area the Relay for Life has proven to be a wonderful fundraiser to fight cancer. In the Wagga Relay for Life on 12 and 13 October this year, remarkable generosity was shown by many, many participants and their supporters. They raised nearly $¼ million to fight cancer. Bill Wood and his hardworking committee made such a great effort to promote this tremendous event. More than 120 teams and 2,000 walkers took part. Duncan and Narelle Potts were very much in the thick of things, with Duncan, in his capacity on the radio, getting the word out there. And Dave Webster and his Australian Army cadets did such a terrific job promoting too, and working on the day. The Relay for Life at Griffith, on 23 and 24 March this year, was a truly inspirational event. More than $130,000 was raised to help in the fight to find a cure for cancer. They are doing their bit, these Relays for Life. I cannot recommend them enough. It is hard work walking around and around an oval, but every step is one closer to finding cures, because of the money that goes to research to fight cancers, and certainly lung cancer.

I know Annabel Macdonald, who works very hard locally in my Wagga Wagga area in the space of raising awareness about cancer, is fighting the good fight, along with many other people right throughout the Riverina. She was very pleased that I was going to speak on this motion. As she said, lung cancer, as it is elsewhere in Australia, is the most common cause of cancer death in New South Wales. The symptoms of lung cancer are detected when the cancer is advanced, sadly, and are often confused with other conditions or the side effects of smoking. If you are a smoker and you have symptoms, including a new dry cough or a change in a chronic cough, chest pain, breathlessness, repeated bouts of pneumonia or bronchitis, or coughing or spitting up blood, you need to consult your doctor or health professional. It is so important, as earlier detection is so vital in advancing the medical treatment you can receive and advancing the years you might have left.

Continued investment in community education, cancer research, improved treatments and early detection means that two out of every three people diagnosed now survive cancer, for all cancers combined. And that is very encouraging. As I said, this is above politics. We need to do all that we can as a government, as an opposition, as parliamentarians in this place and as Australians to raise awareness of lung cancer and to find money for research to fight cancers.