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Thursday, 24 June 2021
Page: 49

Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (13:52): On Monday you may have seen many MPs wearing a blue cornflower like the one I am wearing now. The cornflower is a hardy plant, resilient and strong. As such, it is the perfect plant to represent Motor Neurone Disease Day. Monday was a day to recognise all those who have this terrible degenerative condition as well as those who support and care for them and those who are looking to cure this disease.

All deadly diseases are bad but there is something about MND's slow, steady and irreversible loss of basic body function which is particularly heartbreaking. This is particularly personal for me because—and we don't know why and it sounds peculiar—there is an overly high rate of MND among tennis players. I've lost many friends to the condition, including Brad Drewett, a former international player and CEO of ATP; Peter Doohan, a Newcastle player who shocked the world when he beat two-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker and denied him his hat-trick; Angie Woolcock, a Victorian player who went on to work at Tennis Australia; Paul Hutchins, a British player and a Davis Cup team captain; and Karl Coombs, an Australian junior champion. Like many thousands of Australians, these players and friends of mine had their lives cut short by this horrible disease. God speed to all the researchers working on finding a cure for this condition, because it cannot come soon enough.