Jane Prentice MP, Federal Member for Ryan - Coat of Arms
Federal Member for Ryan
Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services
JANE PRENTICE MP, Federal Member for Ryan

Australian Immunisation Register and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 part 2

Friday, 11 August 2017

Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan—Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services) (09:38): I rise to continue my remarks on the Australian Immunisation Register and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2017. I do not want Australia to be a developed country which sees an innocent child crippled by polio or killed by whooping cough because of nonsense spruiked by unqualified wellness bloggers. In this modern Australia, we should be promoting the health of all people. We all want healthy, well-nourished children who are protected from the wrath of disease. We should encourage reason and therefore encourage the science behind immunisation. It is far, far removed from voodoo.
It upsets me to think that there are many parents in Australia who would even consider not immunising their young children—children whose lives can be cut short by preventable diseases like meningococcal, whooping cough, rubella, hepatitis and influenza. Why should a family with a newborn child too young to be immunised play Russian roulette with their child's life when they interact with others who may or may not have been immunised simply because of parental selfishness? Pause and think what it would be like to lose a son or a daughter because their little body did not have the immunity to a deadly disease. The eradications of smallpox and polio are directly attributed to successful vaccination programs. Perhaps vaccine scepticism will be the straw that breaks the camel's back and allow previously eradicated diseases to take hold again.
At this point I would like to put on record my congratulations to Rotary International for their relentless and determined campaign to eradicate polio. Consider that: polio, the disease which saw devastating effects in children well into the last century, is soon to be eradicated by effective immunisation regimes. Rotary began their fight against polio in 1979, with a project to immunise six million children in the Philippines. As of 2016 there were reportedly only 37 cases of polio worldwide. It shows that, with their determination, their target of eradicating polio by 2018 is within sight.
There are countries who, despite today's modern age of technology and medical advancements, still suffer from the complications of preventable diseases—countries which cannot keep up with the supply of vaccines to cater for the millions of people seeking immunisation, or remote places where the efficacy of a vaccine is undermined by storage. Thanks to the ingenious mind of Professor Mark Kendall, a Ryan electorate local, and his team at the University of Queensland this may be a thing of the past. For those members who are not aware, Professor Mark Kendall and his research team have developed a nanopatch technology to deliver vaccination, including the polio vaccine, through a needle-free technology. Professor Kendall's nanopatch is a very small square of silicone containing 20,000 microscopic spikes that deliver the vaccine directly to the skin's immune cells. Imagine a small patch, applied directly to your skin, that is painless, uses a fraction of the dosage and does not require refrigeration. Today we have a padded box with perhaps six syringes in it. But now we can deliver hundreds of these patches in a box. It can be dropped, it can be left on the deck and it doesn't have to be refrigerated. It can be delivered to villages. You don't need a medical practitioner to administer it, because it's delivered through a little suction pad. You can vaccinate or immunise whole villages in half a day with non-professionals. What a breakthrough that is for so many people around the world. This revolutionary design, I believe, will redefine the course of vaccination the world over.
It is no secret that the coalition takes vaccination very seriously. In fact, I accompanied the then Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Susan Ley, when she announced in 2015 the coalition government's $26 million Immunise Australia budget package in my very healthy electorate of Ryan, a budget package that back then was commended by medical professionals for assisting busy parents to keep their children's vaccinations up to date and dispel common myths about immunisation. Recently I came across a poignant remark from Jeffrey Kluger, a senior writer for Time magazine. He said:
Vaccines save lives; fear endangers them. It's a simple message parents need to keep hearing.

There is no place for petty politics. The health of Australians needs bipartisan support. Members of this parliament should be contributors, not inhibitors, to the health of Australians young and old. It is imperative for parents to be fully informed of the medical facts before they make what could be a life-or-death decision affecting their children and the children of others.
I remind members here today that vaccinations do not stop a childhood. They are vital to ensuring an individual's health, as well as the health of those around them. The coalition is committed to positive health outcomes through preventive measures like vaccination. To date, we have seen record rates of Australians immunised against preventable diseases, the likes of which were fatal in Australia less than 50 years ago. With this booster to immunisation, I commend the bill to the House.


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