Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (11:07): I move:
That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) 2021 marks 100 years since the discovery of insulin by Canadian surgeon Frederick Banting;
(b) Frederick Banting along with his colleagues Professor John McLeod, medical student Charles Best and researcher Dr James Collip, solved the problem of how extracted insulin could be used to treat a person with diabetes;
(c) insulin was first administered to a 14 year old boy, Leonard Thompson at the Toronto General Hospital—it was lifesaving for Leonard and for millions of others diagnosed with diabetes over the ensuing years; and
(d) for their discovery, Banting and McLeod won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1923 and shared their prize money with Best and Collip;
(2) recognises that:
(a) diabetes is a serious and complex metabolic disease that affects the lives of many Australians;
(b) more than 1.4 million Australians currently have diabetes and are registered with the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS); and
(c) Australians like Anna Moresby, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child during World War 2, can live long and productive lives because of the discovery of insulin—Anna has just received a Kellion Victory Medal for living with diabetes for 80 years; and
(3) acknowledges that:
(a) the Government has a long-standing commitment to the NDSS, established in 1987, which assists people with diabetes to self-manage their diabetes through provision of subsidised insulin pen needles and pump consumables, glucose monitoring strips, continuous glucose monitors and flash monitors, and important information, resources, education and support programs and other services;
(b) there has been strong bi-partisan support for the NDSS; and
(c) since its inception the NDSS supports all people with diabetes all over Australia, including children with type 1 diabetes and families, young adults, women with diabetes in pregnancy and over 450,000 people who currently use insulin to help manage their diabetes.
In 1921, insulin was discovered by Canadian surgeon Frederick Banting and, along with Professor John Macleod, Charles Best and Dr James Collip, he shared in the Nobel Prize in 1923. Since that point in time, 100 years ago, insulin has saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives. It was one of the great scientific breakthroughs of its time. Despite that, diabetes is still with us today, in perhaps even greater numbers. In fact, the latest numbers I have seen show that the incidence of diabetes worldwide is still increasing, and that is of great concern.
I thank successive Australian governments for their support of the diabetes community. The current minister, Greg Hunt, has been a very passionate and helpful person in getting the requests of the diabetes community dealt with by government, certainly in the areas of the National Diabetes Services Scheme, the national plan, the insulin pumps, the constant glucose monitors, the FreeStyle Libre devices that are now being provided and the extension of services to rare forms of diabetes. I’ve told a story in this place before of meeting a young family with a baby that had diabetes that did not qualify for a constant glucose monitor. I went to see the minister and basically, with the stroke of a pen, he fixed it for about 13 families around Australia. That’s the kind of response I really appreciate and the diabetes community appreciates. There’s been strong support from the government for medical trials, and that continues. The member for Moreton and I are the co-chairs of the ‘parliamentary enemies of diabetes’. In the time we have been there, it has been a rewarding thing for us to do. We have been pleased with what governments have done for diabetes. We don’t claim to be the sole authors of every success, but we’re certainly there with our shoulders to the wheel.
The figures show that 1.4 million Australians are on the National Diabetes Service Scheme, and it is thought that there would be another maybe one million people who are undiagnosed at this stage. It is sad to report that it is seats like my seat of Grey, in outer regional Australia, where that incidence is the highest. I do not have the latest numbers, but a few years ago Grey had the highest instance of diabetes across the nation. It’s certainly a frontline concern for me. Without doubt, it affects the Indigenous population, particularly in remote communities, even worse than it affects the mainstream population. About 30,000 people a year in Australia take insulin for the first time. Worldwide—and these are the figures I wanted to touch on—it’s estimated that one in 11 adults have diabetes. That is 415 million people, and about half of those are undiagnosed. Half a million children in the world have type 1 diabetes. And it’s worsening. The International Diabetes Federation estimates that, by 2040, 10 per cent of the world’s population—one in 10—will have diabetes. This is diabolical. That’s why we need to keep spending money on those medical trials. Certainly the medical trials are largely aimed at type 1 diabetes, and that is not the predominant number. It is type 2 diabetes which is causing the most havoc around the world.
Sadly, while there are no silver bullets in this game, a lot of the causes of type 2 diabetes are well-known: it’s lifestyle, it’s diet and it’s exercise, and the solutions are within reach of those people who suffer. Getting that message out there and getting people to understand that they are in a powerful enough position to do something about it is the real challenge, and we shall have to keep at that work.
I’m going to end my comments on this motion by restating something I normally say when I speak about diabetes. Diabetes in Australia is the leading cause of coronary heart disease, it is the leading cause of blindness and it is the leading cause of amputation. It’s a darn good thing to avoid, if you can, and, particularly in the case of type 2, a lot of people could. I ask them all to be in touch with their doctor, get screened, get their eye screenings, check out where their health is and do something about it.