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Thursday, 17 February 2022
Page: 1081


Ms ROWLAND (Greenway) (11:01): by leave—To wrap up my remarks from last night, I had been talking about a very special constituent of mine, Mr Damien MacRae, and his son Aiden. In 2017 I brought some private member's business to this chamber highlighting that Damien, who unfortunately had been diagnosed with melanoma, was seeking to pursue some sort of initiative with his son to raise awareness of melanoma in a uniquely Australian way. They developed a sun smart beach themed LEGO project called 'LEGO Surf Rescue'. They managed to get the 10,000 supporters required for LEGO to consider this is as something that they would mass-produce. Unfortunately, LEGO turned them down. There was bipartisan support in this place for that to be acceded to. This project made the news recently when it was revealed under a headline on 11 February in the Sydney Morning Herald 'Lego accused of stealing beach set design from cancer patient and son':

… Mr MacRae was astonished to learn last week that Lego had released onto the market its own Beach Lifeguard Station …

…   …   …

Unlike the MacRae design, nobody was wearing a hat or suns creen.

Probably unbeknownst to LEGO, Damien MacRae happens to be an intellectual property lawyer, so he's well aware that what could be minor changes in design would avoid breaches of copyright.

In my remaining time I'd like to implore LEGO to do the right thing and be good ethical citizens. I suspect that they have done very well—as some organisations have—out of the pandemic, being a time when globally LEGO, a very popular brand, has been turned to by people at various stages of lockdown not only for play but for mental health, in many cases, and good luck to them. But that's all the more reason that they should be good ethical citizens in this instance.

As was true, unfortunately, when I made those remarks in this place a number of years ago, Australia still has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world. Melanoma is often referred to as Australia's national cancer, and I want to acknowledge the member for Blaxland, who since that time has become a melanoma sufferer and is recovering. He has become a great advocate for melanoma prevention and awareness as well. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it's estimated that 1,300 people will die from melanoma in Australia this year. Early education designed to inform children in particular in a fun and innovative way, like using LEGO, could change these statistics for the better. On behalf of the people who live in Greenway, I implore LEGO to do better.

We recognise Damien and Aiden for their ongoing dedication to making the world a safer, more sun-smart place to live. I want to end with a few words that were provided to me:

I am angry and disappointed in LEGO now. When I told Aiden, who is 12 now, what has happened now he simply rolled his eyes. He doesn't want anything to do with LEGO now after this experience. I fear that the lesson I've now taught my son is not "to follow through on your ideas" but "don't bother following your ideas because some bigger fish will steal them from you for themselves".

The only other thing I'd say is that if LEGO had any decency they should also give some credit to my then 5-year-old son whose idea this project was.

I still love LEGO bricks. And I think there is still a place where we can have a win-win here. We don't want money, we just want LEGO to add sun safety features in their beach sets such as faces with sunscreen and sunscreen bottles. This would help educate kids and parents around the world including Denmark, which has the 4th highest rates of skin cancer in the world after Australia, New Zealand, and Norway. If Crown Princess Mary is Denmark's biggest supporter of teaching Danes about skin cancer and sun safety, surely Denmark's largest company can get behind this same message.

I certainly echo that. I thank Damien, Aiden and their family for their incredible resilience. Damien has survived to this point. I hope he continues to have a long and fulfilling life and that Aiden continues to have such a fantastic father.

In the meantime, LEGO, do the right thing. Even if it is not recognising in a monetary sense and in an intellectual property sense who actually had some contribution towards this, do exactly as Damien says—put sun-smart features on those creatures and put a sunscreen bottle there. If it prevents even one family from losing someone they love then that will be time and effort well spent.