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Thursday, 21 August 2003
Page: 19290

Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (12:20 PM) —I rise this afternoon to touch upon two issues, one of which occurred yesterday: the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation day. All members who were involved in that important day will agree that it was a very effective way to bring to the attention of the parliament and, indeed, the nation the type 1 diabetes that affects many children across this country. Some weeks ago two of my constituents—a young girl named Genevieve Lakey and her mother, Barbara Kelly—met me in my office and educated me on juvenile diabetes matters and I am very grateful to them for bringing them to my attention. I hope that yesterday's event will result in greater researching funding for this illness which afflicts many of our nation's children.

The day was very successful. No-one who was at the lunch in the Mural Hall could be anything but overwhelmed by the stories that the young children told about their experiences and the way in which they have to deal with their illness. Any organisation or group who has a genuine cause such as the one that we heard about yesterday should take a leaf out of the organisers' book. It was an extraordinary effort to bring so many people together, and that was evident by the large number of people at the lunch who were emotionally affected by the experience.

The other matter I want to touch upon is a more regional one. Together with the members for Lalor, Gellibrand, Maribyrnong and Wills, I had the great pleasure to co-host in parliament this week a delegation from six municipalities in Melbourne's west. The delegation that visited Canberra this week sought to raise issues of regional importance, including job losses in manufacturing, defence shipbuilding contracts that are in jeopardy, the automotive industry and the potential impact of a free trade agreement with the United States. Members of the delegation managed to meet with a number of ministers and shadow ministers, along with their federal representatives. Their efforts illustrated the leverage that can be imposed upon a government when municipalities collaborate and work together on issues that go beyond their own boundaries. The efforts by the Western Melbourne Economic Development Organisation—the organisation under which the delegation operates—displayed what can be achieved when councils work with each other and not against each other.

There were a number of municipalities there—Hobsons Bay, Brimbank, Melton and Maribyrnong. I would particularly like to mention Councillor Dorothy Costa, Mayor of Brimbank; Marilyn Duncan, the Chief Executive Officer of Brimbank City Council; and Councillor Gary Stock, Mayor of Melton, all of whom I know quite well. They have a great passion for the area they represent and I think they did themselves and their communities proud this week. From talking to them, I know they wish that this visit was just one of many. They believe that big decisions are made in Canberra that affect their communities and they have to be in touch with their federal representatives and also with the executive of government to ensure that their communities are properly looked after in the areas they touched upon this week.