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Friday, 16 June 1989
Page: 4271

Senator KNOWLES —by leave-Two weeks in a row, in answer to questions by Senators Beahan and Giles, Senator Cook misrepresented my public statements on the benefits of chelation therapy for people suffering from cardiovascular disease and other circulatory problems. Firstly, Senator Cook said that my statements were based on anecdotal evidence. They are not. They are based on extensive research conducted by the Cypher Corporation in the United States of America and by cardiovascular surgeons and general practitioners-to name just a few.

Senator Cook admitted that the Government permits ethylene diamine tetra acetate for the treatment of patients with heavy metal poisoning. Yet he claimed that I am promoting a dangerous substance. Senator Cook's statement is contradictory and simply untrue. Senator Cook also claimed that I am promoting a miracle cure or wonder drug. That is not so. I have always maintained that all research shows that it helps only between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of patients which, I might add, is a very high percentage. Senator Cook also claimed that the only way for it to be approved was by proper trialling. That is not so. Penicillin and Digoxine did not have double-blind trials done in Australia before approval.

Senator Cook also claimed that I said that Australia was the only country in the world not allowing chelation. He quoted a Hansard interjection from 9 June. However, try as hard as Hansard does, not all interjections are reported totally accurately. I have never said that. I would never say such a thing as I know more about the subject than the Minister for Resources is ever likely to know. That statement is simply not true. What I have said is that it is used widely all around the world: in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States of America and New Zealand-just to name a few. Senator Cook also stated that I should provide to the relevant Minister any information that I have available, as if I had not already done so. Unfortunately, he is obviously not bright or thorough enough to have found out that I have already done that.

Senator Button —I raise a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. A personal explanation should be a personal explanation, not a debate about a Minister's virtues.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Peter Baume) —Senator Knowles, you should confine yourself to where you have been misrepresented and not debate the matter.

Senator KNOWLES —I am attempting to do that by stating what the Minister has said and, in fact, what I have said and done. As I say, the Minister has not found out that I have already done what he has suggested in providing the Minister with any information. I have done that, as have medical practitioners as recently as the last seven months.

I am very sorry that Senator Giles and Senator Cook have seen fit to make this important issue of chelation therapy a political issue. I have raised this matter purely as a matter of public health and of the right of patients to choose treatment. Unquestionably there is overwhelming evidence worldwide to substantiate the claims that I have made about chelation therapy and I believe that it is scurrilous in the extreme for Senators Cook, Beahan and Giles to say repeatedly in the Senate--

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Knowles, there has been a ruling on a previous point of order. When you make a personal explanation you must confine yourself to what was said and what the correct version is-not any comments on the nature of the allegations.

Senator KNOWLES —Thank you, Mr Deputy President. As I say, Senators Cook, Beahan and Giles have said repeatedly in the Senate that I am giving people false hope and that there is no other way of approving this drug. That is simply not so. I am very much aware-notwithstanding Senator Cook's assertions to the contrary-that it would be highly desirable for the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee to approve the treatment. That is exactly what I have sought since the last evaluation was done in 1983-six years ago. It is quite untrue to say that I have not sought those procedures. It is also quite untrue to say that I am unaware of the benefits. It is also quite untrue to say that the drug that I am promoting is dangerous. I hope that honourable senators would, first of all, learn how to pronounce the name of the drug.

Sitting suspended from 1.57 to 2 p.m.