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Wednesday, 11 August 2021
Page: 29

Mr DRUM (NichollsChief Nationals Whip) (12:35): I will speak in support of the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Amendment (Governance and Other Measures) Bill 2021. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to speak about this bill. I've had a long history with organ donation, going back to my days in state parliament where I was actively involved in an annual cricket match that was played by the Australian organ recipient cricket team. They would travel Australia and raise awareness of this incredible issue. They were a fantastic bunch of men, accompanied by their partners and wives, travelling around Australia and raising awareness of this incredibly important issue.

I think it's true that most Australians would have no idea as to the very small percentage of Australians who are actually able to donate their organs. I don't think Australians realise that you actually have to die in very specific circumstances for your organs to be able to be used. People hear all the time that so-and-so got a new organ or that so-and-so had an organ transplant and is now much healthier than they were, but they don't hear the stories behind the stories. People have spoken to me and said that they have been prepped and taken into hospital two, three or four times for a serious heart-lung transplant or a kidney transplant. These are incredibly important and dangerous procedures, and doctors have to be incredibly choosy and picky as to the efficacy of the donor organ about to be used. That's why we have this situation where it's quite difficult for the organs to match up with the recipient's body.

I think this is an area where the conversation in the chamber is very much about how we move with this type of legislation here, which is predominantly about governance, who is responsible and who will take that accountability within the authority—moving away from the board and over to the CEO. I think that's a really positive move. But, ultimately, what everybody in this chamber and around Australia wants is to see how we can continue this path of increasing numbers of organ donations here in Australia. The old chestnut is: 'Do we continue with the opt-in model, or should we pull everybody into the system and give everyone in Australia the opportunity to opt out?' As the previous speaker said, this debate is not as simple as it sounds. I'm certainly still in favour of changing over to an opt-out process, but I do understand that it's not as simple as it sounds.

In my electorate of Nicholls I've been lucky enough to meet Allan Turner. Allan is the father of Zadee Turner. Of course, people will see a lot of Australians wearing very multicoloured shoelaces once a year as a memento of Zadee's Rainbow Foundation. Zadee died quite a few years ago, in 2004, as a seven-year-old. Her family made that very, very tough decision to donate her organs and she was able to improve the lives or save the lives of seven other Australians. Allan Turner has kept the memory of Zadee very much at the forefront by continuing to raise money and donate that money to a whole range of different foundations and charities. I want to commend Allan for the work that he has done. It's a very, very tough space.

It is also promising to see that whilst we haven't reached the levels that we would like to have reached we are on the increase, and that is something that we should be very, very proud of. Again, once it was explained to me, it was very simple to understand this issue. That is, people who are killed in car accidents, their body is without oxygen, and, once your body is without oxygen for a minute, your organs deteriorate to a stage where they cannot be transplanted—they cannot be donated. If we think about this, we understand the vast majority of us pass away outside of a hospital setting, where we would be able to effectively have our body on life support, donate our organs and then pass away. So it is this very, very rare situation, where we have such low numbers of organs and organs that are donated within Australia.

I think this bill is hoping to see better governance. As a result of the review that was undertaken under the charter of the board, it was indicated that we needed to increase the time and capacity to contribute to the strategic direction if we're going to get these results that we want. You just can't effectively hope and pray that we get something; it's got to have a strategic plan, and certainly this transition in authority is going to help with that strategy of increasing our numbers and getting a better result than what we currently have.

I think, right now, every year, we walk around the lake here—Lake Burley Griffin. We put on our white and pink T-shirts and we pledge our support. But I think it's everybody's role and responsibility to continue to promote the fact that this is critical. We have so many people that are very sick in our society who would be incredible beneficiaries of a donated organ. Like the last speaker, and I'm sure like all speakers, we need to use our positions to encourage people to have that conversation with their loved ones. So: break up the senseless banter around the dinner table and have a serious conversation about dying and about death, about is it okay with everybody around the table to more or less have that conversation about whether we are going to be happy, whether that's our express wish in death, to donate our organs. I think the more of those conversations that Australians can have around the dinner table, or wherever—it doesn't have to be at dinnertime—then the better chance we have of Australia as a nation being able to increase our numbers of donors.

We used to have the sticker on our licence. For whatever reason, that has been taken away. We now have an independent register where we can go online and fill out that registration, which is something that I have done previously. So, whilst my wishes are very, very clear with my children, I just hope that everyone else in Australia has had a similar conversation.

With that, I wish this passage a speedy pathway through the parliament. It seems to have the support of the parliament. I wish everybody out there would step up to the job and make sure that we do create a situation where there are more organs available for transplant, more donors putting their hand up, so that more Australians can live a healthier and more fulfilling life. Thank you.