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Speech at launch of Children's Cancer Institute of Australia's community fundraising campaign, Brisbane.



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NO.031

LAUNCH OF

CHILDREN'S CANCER INSTITUTE OF AUSTRALIA'S COMMUNITY FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN

BRISBANE

31 AUGUST 2008

Thank you very much to everyone who has come here today to support this terrific organisation in its vital fundraising appeal.

Treasurers are often called upon to make speeches on serious topics but I've never made one on an issue as serious or vital as this one.

I've been asked along not just because I'm the Treasurer but because, like Jake who's with us today, I'm also a cancer survivor. But whilst I've had cancer and whilst I've experienced first hand its effects on me and those around me, I'm not going to put my experiences on the same level as those experienced by Jake or others like him.

I think we all understand that it's one thing to discover that you have cancer when you've already had a good crack at life, but another thing altogether for a child to get the disease. Hearing that a child has cancer reaches deeper into our emotions. It makes us contemplate not only loss but despair at the injustice it represents.

Here at the Children's Cancer Institute of Australia those emotions have motivated a group of incredibly talented scientists and their supporters to dedicate their lives to finding a cure. Theirs is a scientific but also a moral crusade.

Childhood cancer remains a significant killer across the country and unfortunately the largest killer of children from disease in Australia. We simply have to keep working towards a cure.

And the really positive thing I've learned from being involved with the Institute is that this is definitely a scientific possibility.

During my childhood in the 1960s childhood cancer was almost always fatal. And everyone of my age would probably have a memory of a child from their neighbourhood who became ill and left school never to return, leaving a vague and uneasy sense of loss that was seldom discussed. But those days are now largely behind us - as Jake's presence here with his dad demonstrates.

Now, the survival rate for children with cancer has risen to 70 per cent. Sadly, though, three children per week still die from cancer. One, is one too many.

Speech of 31/08/2008

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Today we're here to help these dedicated scientists in their aim to reduce that figure to zero within the lifetime of a child born in 2020.

Success is scientifically possible; we can one day hope to save all children from this disease. But it's going to take a lot of hard work - and the public's help.

The Children's Cancer Institute of Australia has the heart and the know-how to lead the way. They've been leading the research effort against childhood cancer since 1976 and now employ over 160 staff and students, including more than 100 scientists. Two words sum them up: ‘total dedication'.

They're some of the best cancer researchers in the world and they've made groundbreaking discoveries about the most common childhood tumours and leukaemias.

They have also made huge advances in many of the major medical fields that combine to improve treatment and reduce fatalities, like early detection, understanding the biology of cancer, experimental modelling and technology use. Their work continues to attract attention from all around the world.

Under the determined leadership of Professor Michelle Haber the CCIA has managed to more than triple its research capacity since 1999. And late next year they will be moving to state-of-the-art laboratories in the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

To continue their success they need more help. CCIA is seeking a further $10 million to consolidate its growth and fund 80 new world-class researchers dedicated to saving the lives of children with cancer.

The organisation has my personal support and you can be confident that all funds donated to the CCIA will go directly towards medical research into the causes, prevention, better treatment and ultimately finding a cure for childhood cancer.

As Treasurer I should end by saying something about the economic benefits to the nation of your donations.

It's true that money donated towards health research such as this saves significant amounts in health expenditure down the track. Some $2.17 for every dollar spent, to be precise. But we all know that cost benefit analysis doesn't even begin to stack up against the benefit of saving even one young life.

Even if it wasn't economically sound, we'd still put our hands deep into our pockets to find a cure for childhood cancer because it's simply the best possible thing we can ever do.

As I said, this is a scientific and a moral crusade - and I hope that many, many Australians treat it as a small personal crusade by donating generously.

So today I conclude by calling upon Australians nationwide to give whatever they can afford no matter how small or large to the Children's Cancer Institute of Australia. And in doing so keep in mind that finding a cure isn't just a hope but a scientific possibility.

Thank you.

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