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Monday, 15 June 2020
Page: 4474


Mr RAMSEY (GreyGovernment Whip) (11:42): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that there are:

(a) 1.3 million Australians with diabetes registered on the National Diabetes Services Scheme, with over 280 new people diagnosed and registered each day and an estimated 500,000 Australians with type 2 diabetes which remain undiagnosed; and

(b) an estimated 2 million Australians with pre-diabetes and at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the next 5-10 years;

(2) acknowledges:

(a) diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder, which if not diagnosed early and treated well may lead to serious health complications such as blindness, limb amputation, heart disease and stroke, and kidney disease; and

(b) the Government's long standing commitment to improving the treatment and care of people with diabetes through establishing the Australian National Diabetes Strategy, the roll out of continuous glucose monitors and flash monitors to children, young adults, health care card holders and women with type 1 diabetes who are pregnant, while noting the need for all type 1 diabetics to have affordable access to this important technology, as well as the recently launched Diabetes in Schools program, the KeepSight program, and programs to prevent diabetes related amputations;

(3) congratulates Australian of the Year 2020, Dr James Muecke AM for his work as an ophthalmologist working in many poor and developing nations, and for raising public awareness of the need to prevent type 2 diabetes through encouraging healthier lifestyles and healthier environments; and

(4) calls on all state and federal governments to re-commit to a refreshed Australian National Diabetes Strategy and to fund and develop a national diabetes prevention program.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Bird ): Is the motion seconded?

Mr Falinski: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

Mr RAMSEY: I am, as most people in this place would probably know, the co-chair of the 'parliamentary enemies of diabetes', along with the member for Moreton, who is across the chamber. It's a job we take very seriously and work very hard at. We call ourselves the enemies of diabetes because this place is full of friendship groups, and I don't want to be a friend of diabetes; I wish to be an enemy of diabetes. It is the leading cause of coronary heart disease. It is the leading cause of amputation. It is the leading cause of blindness in Australia. I will come back to the issue of eyesight in a moment or two. One point three million Australians have diabetes, and another two million are estimated to have prediabetes. It has gone from the stage of being endemic to being epidemic, and it's a serious health risk for Australia.

I have been planning for this motion for some time because part of it is recognising the Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke, who is an ophthalmologist from Adelaide and who has spent a substantial part of his life working in developing nations, helping people keep their eyesight. In fact Dr Muecke has helped thousands of people. We had hoped that he would be in parliament when we did this motion, but the enemies of diabetes will be joining him online soon for a discussion.

The government continues to find ways of funding new treatments, and we are continuing to work towards a cure for diabetes. There have been some really good programs in the last few years. I guess continuous glucose monitors are top of the list, but we have invested in eyesight screening programs as well. I thank Greg Hunt, who is a very attentive minister in this area.

I'd also like to give a little bit of a shout-out to the people who work on the National Diabetes Strategy implementation reference group, especially the former member for Pearce, the Hon. Judi Moylan, who continues maybe not a lifetime's work in this area but half a lifetime's work in this area—she has been a wonderful ambassador and campaigner for diabetes—and Professor Paul Zimmet, who has spent a lifetime studying and working in this area. They are wonderful examples of people who are willing to keep giving and giving and giving for a very good cause.

I'd also like to give a bit of a shout-out to Dr Michael Stanford AM, who is the newly appointed president of Diabetes Australia. He brings a great deal of expertise and prestige to this area. I also want to recognise the outgoing president, Barry O'Farrell, who, in the member for Moreton's eyes and my eyes was probably not there long enough. Barry O'Farrell has gone off to become the High Commissioner to India. It's another job, but he's still serving his nation. We thank him for that and for the almost two years he served as the president of Diabetes Australia.

I often say that this is a way for people who have had a high-profile in public affairs to come back. They can pick an organisation like Diabetes Australia and really give something back. I congratulate Julia Gillard, for instance, on the way that she has become involved in and become the public face of Beyond Blue. It is a really good thing for people from high office to do. So, we on the friends of diabetes group will continue to work with Diabetes Australia.

One of the things I'm sad to say—unless the statistics have changed quite recently—is that the electorate of Grey, which covers 92.4 per cent of South Australia, has the highest diabetes rate in Australia. We are not absolutely sure why. We've got a high Indigenous population, and type 2 diabetes is an incredible affliction for these people, but that can't be the only reason. They are only about seven per cent of the population. There are a whole lot of other things in there that we need to understand. People have little choice with type 1 diabetes, but, although not 100 per cent foolproof, there are many things you can do about your lifestyle that will limit your chances of getting type 2 diabetes. That is a message we are still not getting through to the public on a regular enough basis.