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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 14

Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (10:33): I am really pleased to be able to stand in this House today and congratulate the University of Western Sydney for an extraordinary job of building a relationship with the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, a task that they commenced well over a decade ago and which culminated very recently in a memorandum of understanding which will move an already existing relationship in a new and fabulous direction. It shows a genuine commitment by both universities to building a future in clinical research. I am a little more concerned that the government speakers today, in moving this motion, take a little more credit than perhaps is due to the government by linking this agreement to the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. It is not actually part of the free trade agreement, and none of the press releases by the University of Western Sydney or, for that matter, by the Australian Trade Commission, when this memorandum of understanding was signed, mention the free trade agreement at all.

This is a longstanding agreement. In fact, there is already a high-level agreement between the University of Western Sydney and the Beijing University for Chinese Medicine that dates back some time. We also know that internationally the National Institute for Complementary Medicine at the University of Western Sydney has been formally recognised by the Chinese government, and those high-level collaborative agreements have already been in place between both China and Korea. This is an activity that is incredibly important in Western Sydney not just in terms of health but also in terms of the economy. Complementary medicine in Australia alone is a massive market. Two-thirds of Australians use complementary medicines and therapies each year, representing an annual expenditure of over $3.5 billion in Australia alone.

The National Institute for Complementary Medicine was established by the University of Western Sydney back in June 2007. One of the previous speakers mentioned that it was funded by the Howard government, and we should always give credit where credit is due. That was a very forward thinking decision back in 2007. The institute has continued to grow between then and 2013, when the former Centre for Complementary Medicine Research came under that same government framework. They have been doing really quite remarkable work. They have already successfully completed clinical trials on a broad range of things such as irritable bowel syndrome, infertility, menopause, dementia, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, fatigue, cold sores, delayed onset muscle soreness and a whole range of others. This has been a focus at the highest level of skill and research in this university for over a decade. The National Institute for Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney is one of only two Australian universities that is licensed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to test the quality of these medicines and it has been doing a remarkable job.

The relationship now with the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine is an incredibly important one. It will lead to a new research led Chinese medicine clinic in Sydney based in Westmead in my electorate with the potential for Australia to tap into the $170 billion global traditional Chinese medicine market, an incredibly lucrative market and an area of research that is growing in the world. It was good to see the University of Western Sydney investing in it at such an early stage some 10 years ago. The Beijing University of Chinese Medicine already has relationships with universities elsewhere in France and in Canada and a strong relationship already with the University of Western Sydney, but this is a major step forward.

Again I stress that, while we are today talking about the University of Western Sydney, it is disappointing that the government speakers tried to take a little bit more credit than was due in this particular memorandum of understanding. It was in fact signed in front of the two Prime Ministers, as the Australian Trade Commission press release says, but it is the result of a decade of work and support from the previous Howard government and a relationship that already exists and is well established.

I congratulate the University of Western Sydney. I am very proud of it. Well done.

Debate adjourned.