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Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Page: 11122


Ms KING (BallaratParliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport and Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing) (16:15): At the end of this month I will be joining my colleague the member for Newcastle in her home town for the 13th Australian Transplant Games. The Transplant Games are a fantastic celebration of the life-transforming gift of organ and tissue donation, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be involved. In the words of Transplant Australia:

The Australian Transplant Games are a celebration of life received through organ and tissue donation. They unite all those touched by donation including transplant recipients, donor families, living donors and those waiting for a transplant. Through sport and games, competitors benchmark their renewed health and wellness and say thank you to organ and tissue donors.

In 2008 the Labor government committed to a $151 million reform to improve organ and tissue donation rates in Australia. After two full years of implementation we have seen some solid growth that we are continuing to build on this year. In 2011 the lives of 1,009 were transformed after receiving a transplant. This is the highest number of transplants for any year on record, representing a 25 per cent increase over the 2009 outcome. This represents a donation rate of 15.1 donors per million population, also the highest result on record. It compares favourably with the baseline figure and is a significant improvement on the 2009 outcome of 11.3 donors per million of population. There is much more, however, to be done.

I am very concerned about some potential impediments to continuing improvements in Australia's donation rate, particularly in Queensland. Late last week the Organ and Tissue Donation Authority was informed by Queensland's chief health officer of a number of seriously troubling changes the state proposes in the Newman government's outrageous health cuts—changes like moving the donor family support officer, the person who plays a vital role for grieving families, into a 'quality and governance team' in the state bureaucracy, and changes like moving a number of organ donor coordinators, the people who ensure organs are allocated as quickly as possible, into the ever-shrinking Queensland health department. Over 100 people are involved in an individual organ transplant. I therefore say to the Newman government: how can you possibly cut over 4,000 jobs in Queensland Health without having an impact on those services? The Newman government needs to explain itself to the 230 people on the waiting list for a transplant in Queensland.

Reforms to organ and tissue donation are part of a COAG agreement that all governments signed onto, but one that the Newman government is clearly walking away from. The direction the Queensland government is heading in is but a small taste of what an Abbott-led government would look like—cuts to health, cuts to education and cuts to essential services that hardworking Australian families rely on. The Gillard government commits millions of dollars to organ and tissue donation in Queensland every year, in good faith, while the Newman government to date has brought nothing but pain, suffering and misery when it comes to health in Queensland, and I condemn them for the decision they have taken, and will certainly be talking more to them about that.