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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2478

Senator HARRADINE (4.12 p.m.) —I will be extremely brief because this is the last day of sitting. This is an extremely important matter. I thank the members of parliament who have been pursuing this issue over a good number of years. I thank the members of the Standing Committee on Community Affairs who have taken the time to examine the issues involved; I also thank the committee staff and those involved in developing the report.

  There is not time available to go into the detail of the basis of the report or its recommendations. Suffice it to say that it is about time that attention is focused on this very serious problem. Senator Sandy Macdonald indicated that the government has provided a certain amount for medical research. I have had a look at some of the projects that the government has provided funds for. On my first look at them I found that there are many questionable areas that the government is looking at. Indeed, some are questionable on the basis of ethics. The money that is going into some of those programs could be better utilised for the purposes of putting more funding into research of the breast cancer problem, the matters surrounding it and indeed the management of the problem when it is faced not only by women but also by the other people directly involved—their families.

  I have had a very strong and personal interest in this matter for 15 years. I am happy to see that at least there is now full recognition of the importance of this problem and the effect that it has not only on the individual who has the disease—which is a real problem—but also on everyone else involved.

  Medical interventions are not the only or, indeed, the primary means of overcoming and facing up to this particular problem. I do not suggest that medical interventions are the total answer. Nevertheless, it is important that research funds be made available for an all-out attack on this problem. It has been said here, although I have not said it myself, and it has been my personal observation, that the money that has been thrown at AIDS—a very serious disease, but one which predominantly affects male homosexuals—has been very substantial but, had AIDS primarily affected females, one wonders whether so much money would have been thrown at it.

  Much of the money is well spent; much of it is not well spent. Having been on the Parliamentary AIDS Liaison Committee, I have had occasion to point out some of the areas where money for AIDS has not been well spent—where the educational programs have encouraged the practices which are the substantial cause of the spread of the disease, rather than the money being utilised properly.

  I rose just to mention that. I thank Senator Sandy Macdonald and the other members of the committee for the work that they have done. I believe that the committee system has great advantages in this place. I am a very strong supporter of the committee system. It is important that reports such as this and the others that have been referred to today are read. I will be looking forward to a response by the government. I also take this opportunity to say, as did Senator Sandy Macdonald, that we are all thinking of Senator Jocelyn Newman. Our prayers are with her and her family.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.