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Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Page: 2387


Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital TerritoryAssistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation) (13:08): On 12 March, I had the great pleasure to be part of the official naming ceremony for the new national office building for the Department of Social Services here in Canberra. I was there with the Minister for Social Services, Dan Tehan; the Assistant Minister for Children and Families, David Gillespie; and the Secretary of the DSS, Kathryn Campbell, as well as many employees of the department and representatives of Cromwell, the building owner, Paul Weightman and Bobby Binning.

This brand new building provided a fantastic opportunity to recognise a remarkable Australian: Dame Enid Lyons. Dame Enid Lyons was elected to parliament in 1943 and was the first woman to sit in the House of Representatives, as the member for Darwin—which is now the electorate of Braddon in Tasmania. In 1949, when Robert Menzies became Prime Minister, Enid Lyons became the first woman to sit in the federal cabinet. She was also the wife of Joseph Lyons, the Premier of Tasmania from 1923 to 1928 and Prime Minister of Australia from 1932 to 1939, when he died. They had 12 children together—and, in fact, a number of the descendants of Dame Enid Lyons and Joe Lyons were in attendance on this very special occasion.

Dame Enid Lyons's enduring legacy and passionate advocacy for reforms to welfare, in particular to support women and children, have made a considerable impact on Australian society. She was a great Liberal success story and someone we should be very, very proud of.

I have a long history when it comes to this building, first as a senator for the ACT and then as the former Assistant Minister for Social Services. When the last lease for the DSS headquarters was up, I fought very hard to keep local jobs in the Tuggeranong Town Centre. This new building not only kept a significant workforce in Tuggeranong—over 2,000 staff—which helps keep small businesses in the area viable, but also attracted significant investment and new jobs for the new building. The building received $26.8 million funding from the Commonwealth for the fit-out costs, in addition to the $130 million build from Cromwell. I was there for the turning of the sod when construction of the new building began. I was there for the opening last year to officially conduct that ceremony, and I spoke in this chamber about the building when it opened. And it was an honour to be part of the naming last week. It's a great facility for local Canberra workers and a great opportunity to honour a woman who has left such a vital legacy to Australia.

On 15 March, I also had the fantastic opportunity to visit IP Australia at their Woden offices, here in Canberra, and take part in their lunch for the World's Greatest Shave for the Leukaemia Foundation. This was an opportunity to visit IP Australia as Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation, but it was also great to help them raise money and support such an important cause. The World's Greatest Shave provides a great opportunity for businesses, schools and community organisations to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation. Many of us have been personally touched by cancer or have had a family or friend impacted. Blood cancer is the third most common cause of cancer deaths in Australia. It claims more lives than breast cancer or melanoma. Every day, another 35 people will be diagnosed. It's with the continued support of organisations across Australia that initiatives like the World's Greatest Shave are able to provide much-needed funds to both support families and continue research into prevention methods and, maybe one day, a cure.

I wasn't the one getting my head shaved on the day. That honour went to the very brave Sue Pedder, who had the courage to let me do the first cut with the scissors. Another of her IP Australia colleagues, Lucinda Rowles, also had her head shaved but at a separate event. I'd like to congratulate both Sue and Lucinda on taking up the cause. It's an admirable thing to do—something so personal for an important cause—especially going into a Canberra winter. The funds they raised will go some way to helping those who are even braver and have an even bigger fight as they confront a diagnosis of leukaemia. I'd also like to congratulate all of the IP Australia staff, who do such a good job in protecting intellectual property in Australia. It's such an important thing, and many of them do it right here in Canberra. I'm very proud of the work that they do.

I had another great opportunity to officially launch the Melanoma March on the 18th of this month. The Melanoma Institute Australia is the world's largest centre focused specifically on melanoma treatment, prevention and cure. In relative terms, Australia has pretty good cancer survival rates, but of course we need to do much better. While medical research and better screening, diagnosis and treatment are vital in the fight against cancer, it's important to remember that most cancers, and melanoma especially, are largely preventable. Prevention, early diagnosis and effective treatment mean that no-one should have to die from melanoma. Australia and New Zealand unfortunately have the highest rates of melanoma in the world. Melanoma is the most common cancer in young Australians, making up approximately 20 per cent of cases, and melanoma kills more young Australians than any other cancer. One person every six hours will die from melanoma in Australia.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Over the past five years, the use of improved treatments has tripled life expectancy for people with melanoma so that is good news. The government is investing heavily in cancer research. Over the past five years, under the coalition government, around $4.8 billion worth of medicines have been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for cancer treatment. The government's National Health and Medical Research Council has provided nearly $140 million since the year 2000 for research into melanoma.

But there is always more that we can do. That's why I'm proud to have participated in this necessary and crucial march. I want to thank all of those hardworking volunteers here in Canberra and around the country who have helped to put together these marches. It was a largely thankless task, but I want to thank them for their hard work on what is a really important cause. And I encourage those listening to get checked by their GP and specialist skin clinics. If you get in front of melanoma, it is very survivable. We want to see survival rates continue to improve significantly.

Finally, I want to take the chance to congratulate some local Canberrans who have celebrated significant birthdays and anniversaries. One of the great pleasures of being a local senator is that I can facilitate letters from the Prime Minister, the Governor-General and sometimes the Queen to help people celebrate these wonderful occasions. I congratulate Joan Faulkner, from Evatt, who celebrated her 90th birthday on 28 February; Stavroula Tzakis, from Page, who celebrated her 100th birthday on 6 March; Heather McGlew, from Farrer, who celebrated her 90th birthday on 13 March; Roger and Barber Ashworth, from Wanniassa, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on 23 March, a wonderful achievement; Ronald Francis, from Kingston, who celebrated his 90th birthday on 24 March; and Doreen Johns, from Garran, who will celebrate her 90th birthday on 29 March. Happy birthday for tomorrow, Doreen. It's a wonderful thing to honour those people, who have lived such long lives and made such wonderful contributions to our community, and to celebrate 50 years of marriage. What a great legacy that is. I congratulate them all.