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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3420


Dr STONE ( Murray ) ( 17:57 ): There is no easy test other than a brain biopsy that can confirm CJD, so these young boys—now men in their 40s and 50s—live with a time bomb, suffering this uncertainty at the same time that they suffer from the other health impacts of the treatments they received years before. In Michael's case he must spend many dollars each month buying medication that treats his conditions. Surely it is time that these injustices are recognised.

The 800-page report of the Allars inquiry made a very clear case for compensation for victims. I refer to the remarks of Dr Mal Washer MP, who participated in the 2008 debate on the Fran Bailey private member's motion. He highlighted how the Allars inquiry had identified

… failures in the production of product, including the collection of pituitary glands; failures in supervision of the product and programs by government agencies, including the health department, the National Biological Standards Laboratory and the Human Pituitary Advisory Committee, or HPAC; and failures of appropriate action undertaken by the department following suspension of the program in 1985. There were inadequacies in tracing the recipients, the information provided, the epidemiological studies, and blood and organ donation.

Successive governments have failed to take up the cause, although Fran Bailey's motion received bipartisan support at the time.

It is Michael's view that his status as an adopted child born of an unwed mother made him more vulnerable to this careless use of his young body.

As well as being treated with human growth hormone, an unknown number of pre-pubertal and adolescent boys who were short were treated with synthetic androgens or steroids to accelerate their growth after being primed with human growth hormones. This causes prostate disease for some and sterilised an unknown number of these boys. Many of these boys fell into the 'unapproved' category of patients, given that they were treated by medical practitioners who did not officially record all the details of the children they treated.

I was deeply moved by the story told to me by Michael O'Meara in the Great Hall on the day of the formal apology for survivors of governments' forced adoption policies in our country. I am in awe of Michael's dignity and patience as he strives to bring justice for himself and his fellow victims. No doubt Michael will continue to suffer as no human should because our nation failed in its duty of care in regard to his wellbeing. Sadly for Michael, he did not only suffer the ultimate tragedy of separation at birth from the woman who was his mother and who undoubtedly would have loved him. She was drugged and she could not ever know the struggles of her newborn just to draw his first breath. But her baby went on to suffer as a child and then as a man because governments failed to do the right thing by him. I call on the government to revisit the Allars inquiry and offer the same support and compensation as that which was offered and gratefully accepted by the women who were treated at the same time. Obviously Michael's story is just one of the many human tragedies that make up the thousands of stories that deal with the forced adoptions that took place in Australia over many decades in the 20th century.

I think the official apology we gave was long overdue. It was magnificent in the way that it was addressed, I believe, in the appropriate ceremony and with very carefully chosen words from both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott. I stand by that apology, as I think most Australians would. Let us hope that that episode in our history is never repeated in any form and that we never again treat some children as less valuable or their mothers as having less value simply because of their marital status. I very much commend this motion to the House.