House debates

Monday, 2 June 2008


Pollie Pedal

9:39 pm

Photo of Tony AbbottTony Abbott (Warringah, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Families, Community Services, Indigenous Affairs and the Voluntary Sector) Share this | | Hansard source

I am pleased to follow the member for Isaacs, who has been talking about the importance of research into cancer, because I rise to congratulate all my colleagues involved in the Pollie Pedal of 2008. The 11th annual Pollie Pedal bike ride went from Melbourne to Sydney via Yea, Benalla, Rutherglen, Henty, Junee, Boorowa, Goulburn and Camden. I am pleased to say that more than $220,000 was raised for a number of very good causes—for the education of children with autism at the Vern Barnett School in my electorate; for medical research at the Nepean Medical Research Foundation in Penrith, in Sydney; but most particularly for prostate cancer research at Westmead Hospital, which is the largest health campus in the southern hemisphere.

I wish to thank the major sponsors of Pollie Pedal 2008: Amgen, the pharmaceutical company; Novartis, another pharmaceutical company; the Mormon Church; Hartmann, which provides bandages to public hospitals; Blackmores, the well-known natural health provider; Johnson & Johnson, another pharmaceutical company; and Ramsay Health Care, the private hospital operator. It was particularly pleasing to see not only that these sponsors provided financial support to these good causes but that the key personnel of some of them also participated. Richard Davies, the local managing director of Amgen, and Martin Cross, the local managing director of Novartis, were key participants in the ride this year, as was Graeme Shelley, who is one of the senior executives with Hartmann. But it was not just the large corporates who were involved; I was particularly pleased to receive a $500 donation towards the great cause of prostate cancer research from the Albury Aboriginal Medical Service. I want to particularly thank that organisation for their generosity.

But it would not be a Pollie Pedal without the participation of some of my parliamentary colleagues. The member for Parramatta, Julie Owens, rode every kilometre of the distance. Pat Farmer rode almost every kilometre. He often says that he could probably run faster and further than we ride, but nevertheless, to his great credit Pat, the member for Macarthur, was riding most days. Kevin Andrews, the member for Menzies; Sussan Ley, the member for Farrer; and Senator Guy Barnett were also participants over several days. Bernie Ripoll, the member for Oxley; Mark Dreyfus, the member for Isaacs; and Kelvin Thomson, the member for Wills, all participated on the first day. I thank them and I congratulate them.

Of course, it was not all plain sailing or easy riding every day. I probably should thank the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital for the excellent medical attention that was provided in the casualty department to one of our riders who came off his bike, and also Campbelltown Hospital for the care of another one of our riders who suffered a suspected heart attack. But I have to say that all of them are fine and they are looking forward to participating next year.

Pollie Pedal means that at least some politicians turn up at towns far from the beaten track for politicians. Politicians turn up at little places which are often forgotten in our national debate. The other nice thing about the Pollie Pedal is that travelling on bikes and staying in caravan parks suggests to those who are familiar with it that politicians are not quite the creatures of luxury or the indulgent people that at least some of our critics like to think.

I would like to say that Pollie Pedal has become a very important part of my life. I really appreciate the camaraderie of my brother and sister politicians. I look forward to next year’s event and I hope that all who participated this year might get on their bikes again next year.