House debates

Monday, 6 March 2023

Private Members' Business

Blood Stem Cell Donation

11:36 am

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Katter's Australian Party) Share this | Hansard source

My attention was drawn to this issue in a number of ways. A person in my electorate, a girl of 13 from the Atherton Tablelands—a lovely kid—died. Another person in the electorate had a match but it came too late. She and her husband were a most attractive couple and it is heartbreaking to look at the photographs of them together. My own nephew, Liam O'Brien, scored a match, so he has gone from a life expectancy of arguably three or four months to a normal life expectancy. That is the magical thing about bone marrow.

We have 100,000 people, I'm informed, on the register. To be in line with other countries, we should have 200,000. I can't see any reason why we can't get to one million. I thank my colleagues Monique and Bert, and my other colleagues that have come forward to form a committee with Kate Thwaites from the ALP that will take this matter forward. We send bone marrow overseas and they send bone marrow over here. Well, $12.8 million has been locked up for a number of years. It needs to be freed up and given to Lisa Smith's authority, which can then proceed to have people go into the university colleges. When I heard about this, my mind went straight back to my university college days. I was president of the university college, and we were approached about blood donations. That is not a very intrusive as a procedure. Putting a swab in your mouth is not an intrusive procedure at all. I couldn't see anyone in the college objecting to it. We put it to the college council, everyone agreed and nobody disagreed. It was that simple to get blood donations from 200 university students. If we approached every university college in Australia—as we approached St Leo's Catholic College, which is my old college and that of Liam O'Brien—I'm sure they'd have said yes. The college executive met with us and said, 'Yes, of course we will give it.' They've taken 200 swabs and are proceeding to do it. But Lisa Smith has got to approach some 300 or 400 university colleges in Australia, and she needs personnel to do this. She also has to pay for the swabs, and they may come in at $50 a swab by the time you get them processed and everything else. She needs money.

I was a platoon commander, a sergeant, when we were at war with Indonesia, and I was rung up and told we were giving blood and to be ready to send my platoon over the next day or the day after. So, whether it was a university college or the armed forces, we said, 'We're doing it,' and no one disagreed. There was not a single person who disagreed, either in my platoon or my university college. So I immediately thought of the armed forces of Australia, and there are about 50,000 people there that are in the right age group—remember, it has to be 18 to 35, though Monique and all of us agree that it has to be extended to 40. I refer to my chair and my secretary over here on that matter. The vast bulk of the armed forces fit within that category. For medical faculty students—nurses or doctors or whatever—all we need to is walk into the lecture room, put it on the desks and say, 'Would you mind doing a swab and leaving it in the bin as you walk out, please?' (Time expired)


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