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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 12140


Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (22:05): I am sorry, Mr Speaker, I got a bit excited by the member's presentation there.

On 17 October I represented the Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, at the opening of the Melbourne Brain Centre, a new research facility that will provide hope for millions of Australians and people around the world who live with a neurological disorder. I was able to open this new facility, located at Melbourne university's Parkville campus, with the Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu. The facility completes three facilities which make up the Melbourne Brain Centre. The Austin Hospital and the Centre for Translational Neuroscience at Royal Melbourne Hospital are the other two facilities that make up the centre.

The Melbourne Brain Centre is the biggest brain research centre in the southern hemisphere. The centre brings together 700 staff to support research into the causes, prevention and treatment of neurological disorders in state-of-the-art laboratories. The vital work done in these facilities will shed new light on common degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. This centre was made possible because of the Gillard government's $5 billion Health and Hospitals Fund, the Victorian government and generous donations by philanthropists, particularly from the Potter family and the Myer family.

This investment is a testament to the Minister for Health and Ageing and the Gillard government. Our overall investment in health in Australia is the largest our nation has seen since Medicare. For the first time, neuroscientists and neurologists from across Melbourne and around Australia will be able to join forces to improve diagnosis and treatment for people with brain disorders. As Australia's population ages, the need to combat these terrible diseases will become more and more pressing. Already the burden of brain and mind disease currently accounts for 25 per cent of the disability adjusted life years for Australians. For this reason, neurological disorders are a growing priority for Australian government-funded medical research, with almost $400 million allocated by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The brain centre will achieve this goal, translating more rapid advances in knowledge into better patient care and better health outcomes. The Australian government contributed two tranches of approximately $38 million towards the centres at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Parkville and at Austin Health. The state government contributed $56 million, the Potter family $15 million and the Myer family, ably represented by Rupert Myer, a further $8 million. The centre is named after Rupert's late father, Ken Myer, who always had an interest in biological science issues.

I am very pleased to say, as I did when I was opening the centre, that the massive investment by state and federal governments, together with this generosity through private philanthropy, keeps that edge in Victoria in medical research which so distinguishes our city. I am very proud of the fact that there are so many places in Melbourne that distinguish themselves not only throughout all of Australia but throughout all of the world. It is one of the leading cities for medical research, and I think this national brain centre is going to make a very valuable contribution towards that. As the Minister for Health and Ageing has said, we are committed to ensuring that Australia's medical and health research institutes and our best and brightest researchers have sufficient support and financial assistance to continue to work at the forefront of their fields.

I commend the federal government, the Minister for Health and Ageing and the Victorian Liberal state government. Mr Baillieu was very generous in his commendation of former Premier Brumby, for whom this was a particular issue. All state governments, including both the previous Labor Brumby and Bracks governments, have had a very strong concentration on Melbourne continuing to maintain this excellence in medical research. The opening of the Melbourne Brain Centre at the University of Melbourne in Parkville will help keep that cutting edge that Melbourne has in medical research.