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Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Page: 10454

Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (19:40): I rise tonight to express my great concern about Australia's appallingly low rate of organ donations and the failure of the federal government's $151 million reform package, which was designed to establish Australia as a world leader in organ donations. Australians support organ donation, and transplants have a 96 per cent success rate. Despite this, we have one of the lowest transplant rates per head of population in the developed world. In international rankings Australia is not even in the top 20, with Spain, Norway, France, Austria, the USA and even countries like Estonia and Uruguay well ahead of us. In fact, the World Health Organization ranked Australia a lowly 24th in the world last year for organ donations per head of population.

Back in July 2008 the then Rudd government announced a $151 million national reform package to improve Australia's lowly rate of organ donations. At the time they said this was 'to establish Australia as a world leader in organ donation for transplantation'. But currently Australia's organ donation rate is just 0.9 per cent higher than the rate it was some 22 years ago and we remain a lowly 24th in the world. This is all despite the then Prime Minister's stated target of lifting Australia's performance to that of 'world leader status'. However, this reform package and the spending of over $151 million has failed to come anywhere near that target.

To demonstrate how poor Australia's organ donation rates are, whilst leading countries in the world such as Spain and Portugal and many states of the USA consistently have over 30 donors per million of population, Australia's current rate of organ donations, four years after the spending of $151 million, is less than half that of those countries, at just 14.9 donors per million.

If transplantation rates were the Olympics, there would be a national outrage at Australia's poor performance from both the media and the populace alike. If we were ranked a lowly 24th in the medal tally at the Olympics, we might feel disappointment and a few athletes might miss out on medals. But when we are ranked a lowly 24th in the world for organ donations, what that lowly ranking means is that an Australian waiting for an organ transplant today has only half as much chance of receiving a transplant as a citizen of Spain, Portugal, Croatia, the USA, Austria or France. This lowly ranking of 24th in the world means that this year alone more than 1,000 Australians will miss out on organ donations. What this lowly ranking of 24th in the world means is that thousands of Australians will unnecessarily suffer. They will experience unnecessary hardship and, ultimately, unnecessary death.

The failure of the reform package and Australia's lowly ranking is completely unacceptable and every member of this chamber should be outraged. But just look at the comments from some of those working at the coalface, such as double transplant recipient Brian Myerson, who recently said:

Australians are dying and suffering needlessly. We have one of the best health care systems in the world, yet we have one of the worst organ transplant rates in the developed world.

…   …   …

Past mistakes are being repeated when, globally, new and very successful systems are proven to be working.

If this is not disturbing enough, we are now actually going backwards. The transplant scoreboard shows that in 2012 we are going backwards. There has been a decrease in organ donations in 2012 compared to 2011.

We need an urgent, independent, external consultant review to determine the reasons for the failure of execution of the national reform package. We need to find out what has happened to the $151 million of taxpayers' money that has been spent with negligible results. We have a duty to do so, for this continued failure, this continued lowly ranking, results in unnecessary suffering, hardship and ultimately death for our fellow Australians who are urgently awaiting transplants.