Gayle’s Law – Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Remote Area Attendance) Amendment Bill | MOTION


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (16:52): I advise that I am not the opposition’s lead speaker on this issue, but I do appreciate the opportunity to say a few words at the start of this debate. This is an issue that is dear to my heart for quite a few reasons. My wife is a nurse. My wife has worked in a remote Aboriginal community for a couple of years in Western Australia. She has explained to me some of the challenges and dangers.

I myself have worked in outback South Australia. I spent a lot of time at Marla and gained a lot of friendships and connections with a lot of people through that time, so this issue is very dear to me. But, of course, there is nothing that I can know, nothing that I can think, nothing that I can understand or that any of us here can understand compared with what Gayle’s family would understand about this issue.

We disagree on a lot of things in this chamber, but this is not one of them. Mr Woodford, you and your family, and others no doubt who have supported you, have got your message through loud and clear, and there is genuine bipartisan support for Gayle’s Law. I am very pleased that this is one of those issues that is beyond politics, beyond dollars and beyond a lot of the things that we debate and discuss and disagree on in this place.

This is an issue of principle. This is an issue that must be fixed. This is perhaps an issue that should have been addressed earlier, and I am sure that plays on your mind a lot, but we are doing the very best that we can at the moment. For many of the reasons that the member for Elder just outlined, this is incredibly important.

I know that when living and working in remote communities, people form different bonds in a good way. In the city, you have your core friends. I have not lived in Adelaide for a very long time now, but you have your core friends, and you do not often know too much outside of that. In smaller, more remote places, everybody knows everybody and everybody is connected in some way. It is not to say that everybody desperately loves each other, but you do find a way to get on.

There are people who have been supporting this sort of outcome at a personal level for a very long time, but it has not been legislated and it has not been mandatory. We want to contribute to make it legislated and to make it mandatory. This is incredibly important. There are a lot of things that affect all of us in our lives, but nothing could be more devastating than the type of impact upon a family that has come with Gayle’s death. I put my personal apology on the table that this has not happened before today, but certainly the opposition and the government are at one in making it happen today.