House debates

Monday, 3 June 2013

Private Members' Business

Polio Eradication

12:51 pm

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Deputy Speaker. We will not mention the football on the weekend, obviously! I rise to speak about something very serious, which is the member for Fremantle's motion to eradicate polio. Last week in Parliament House we were joined by dozens of polio survivors and their friends and families. It was a revelation to learn how far the polio family tree can reach amongst our families and the community.

Polio is transmitted by contaminated water and food supplies, enters through a child's mouth and then multiplies in the throat and intestines. In a matter of hours, the polio virus can enter the brain and spinal cord, destroying the cells that enable muscles to contract, and causing paralysis. Sadly, in five to 10 per cent of cases, the child dies.

More than 10 million children will be paralysed in the next 40 years if the world fails to capitalize on its US$9 billion global investment in eradication. Bill Gates came and spoke here in Australia last week with our nation's leaders about the work that his foundation is doing to rid the world of polio. He said that we are down to just three countries and 300 cases, and he gives himself a good chance of eradicating the disease.

Last year I went to Pakistan with a delegation and saw the great work being done. It would be nice to achieve that goal. During Mr Gates's visit to Australia, Prime Minister Gillard announced an $80 million boost to the polio fight. And that will be combined with the US$1.8 billion put in by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate polio.

For 25 years, on a more local basis, Rotary International has been fighting to eradicate the tenacious disease, polio. Rotary International has 1.2 million members worldwide in more than 200 countries. I would particularly like to acknowledge some of the local Rotary members in my electorate of Moreton. Now, with the great work around the world—by immunising more than two billion children—we have reduced the number of polio cases by 99 per cent. In fact on Friday I went to the Spinal Injuries Association for a catch-up and I met with David Riley the president, who is also a Sunnybank resident, and Bruce Milligan the CEO. They told me—it was something that I had not realised—that there is something called post-polio syndrome. The Spinal Injuries Association often deals with people who had polio when they were children. They are now ageing and are covered by the Spinal Injuries Association because some of the symptoms of the late effects of polio include muscle and joint pain and the like, and the Spinal Injuries Association provides support to them.

I want to go back to the work of some of the Rotary clubs in my electorate and their inspiring fundraising efforts such as the efforts of the amazing team at Rocks Riverside Rotary Club in Oxley—Brad Butcher, the president; Frank Sauter, the treasurer; Lucinda Coalter, the secretary; and Chris Antoniess, the fundraising organiser. They donated iPads to the aged care ward at Canossa Hospital, they donated money to the Brisbane Basket Brigade, but they also raised money for the polio campaign. So they have been working locally to raise funds locally but then helping the rest of the world. I know that Rocks Riverside Rotary Club are looking for new members, so I am putting that out there for people who are interested in supporting a great community group.

I also want to acknowledge the Rotary Club of Salisbury. I attended their 50-year anniversary dinner earlier this year, in January. They do local work but have also raised money to give to the international polio campaign. The Rotary Club of Sunnybank Hills also had a fundraising dinner to raise money for the global fight towards eradicating polio.

I will not name all the people in the Rotary Club of Archerfield because I know there are significant players from Liberal and National parties there. I was at a function with them yesterday. On election day we stand on opposite sides of the ballot box but on the other 364 days of the year they are out there working for their community both at the international level—I know that the Dean brothers, who have a connection with Pakistan have sent money back to eradicate polio.

I would also like to mention the Walter Taylor Bridge branch of Rotary, which is only just one-year-old but is trying to recruit people. I saw them at the Sherwood State School fete the other day. They had a stall there, reaching out to people who can then show the great community spirit involved, be involved on a local level and also commit to eradicating polio on a larger scale.

The good news is that polio is completely preventable since the virus cannot live long outside the human body. Immunisation can prevent this disease spreading and can eradicate it. As Bill Gates said, we will be able to eradicate it and that would be a good thing to do on our watch. Polio still threatens children around the world so every community group should be making an effort to raise funds.


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