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Speech in Parliament – Lung Health Awareness Month

1 December 2014   Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (12:39): I thank the member for Shortland for moving this motion, and also my colleague the member for Hasluck for all his hard work on this important issue. Last month was Lung Cancer Awareness Month and I was delighted to participate in a Lung Foundation Australia Shine a Light on Lung Cancer awareness event. Every year, around 11,000 Australians are diagnosed with lung cancer. The symptoms of this disease can often be vague, sometimes leading to misdiagnosis, so Lung Cancer Awareness Month helps to promote community education on what a cough really means.

Lung Foundation Australia is a national organisation supporting research, developing educational fact-sheets, training health professionals, and undertaking community awareness activity and advocacy around the nation. As we saw through their informative event held in Parliament House last week, Lung Foundation Australia develops relationships with government in respiratory health to highlight the financial and personal impacts of lung disease. Their public awareness campaigns draw attention to the importance of lung health and the symptoms of lung disease.

I was delighted to participate in a Lung Foundation Australia fundraising event several weeks ago. This commenced as a result of the great generosity of a Boehringer Ingelheim, a multinational pharmaceutical company, whose Australian headquarters are located in my Bennelong electorate. Boehringer Ingelheim’s Managing Director, Wes Cook, has regularly shown his generosity and the importance with which his organisation holds their social obligations. This includes regular support for the annual Bennelong Volunteers Recognition events. This year’s will be held this coming Friday.

Boehringer Ingelheim donated to charity earlier this year by being the highest bidder at the Press Gallery Ball for a tennis lesson with the great Ken Rosewall and me. They on-donated this to Lung Foundation Australia to raise even more money at their annual event in November. I was delighted to act as the auctioneer for this beautiful prize. The bidding was fierce; it went to over $1,000 for a game of tennis with the great man, Ken Rosewall. It went to $2,000, then to $3,000 and then above $4,000—there were two bidders. I could not bear to see a loser, so, without consulting Ken, I thought we would level it off at $4,250 each and we will give them both a game, which coincidentally managed to raise twice as much money for our Lung Foundation group. They were happy, although I have not told Ken the good news that he is up for two games. He recently celebrate his 80th. He has been off the circuit for a while, so he is fit and ready to go.

Lung health is an interesting issue in itself. Some of our greatest swimmers suffered from lung disease. Ian Thorpe is one. He suffered from asthma and it was recommended that he should train, and train he did and became one of our greatest swimmers and at the same time addressed his illness. The great trainer Les Gronow, who trained many of our great tennis players, from Lew Hoad through to Mark Edmondson, Pat Cash and others, wrote a book titled Breathe in, breathe out: health and fitness the Les Gronow way. His belief of physical performance was the criteria of lung capacity over your weight. At one stage he said to some of his players, ‘There is not much more I can do about your lung capacity, you will have to push back from the table and reduce your weight.’ It gives me great pleasure to speak on this subject, both from the point of view of health and of performance.